Growing up in the tough, gritty streets of East L.A. was not an ideal environment for Henry Delgado, a one-time gang member who escaped his circumstances, found faith and built a boxing/martial arts gym to help youth become champions in and outside the ring.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, Delgado’s Boxing and Martial Arts is also the training home for Denver native “Mile High” Mike Alvarado, a 31-year-old undefeated welterweight boxer ranked in the Top-5 in his division. Delgado also manages top boxing prospects Jeremy Ramos, Manuel Lopez and David Escamilla.
Delgado’s Gym recently relocated to downtown Denver at 2333 Delgany Street where the facility provides weight training, speed training and flexibility in both boxing and martial arts. It’s also a resource for at-risk youth seeking to escape troubled situations whether drugs, alcohol or gang activity. Delgado’s own children are accomplished athletes in martial arts and coaches in their own right. His son, Roy, was a professional boxer and son, Nico, was a Taekwondo national champion. Daughters Valerie and Elaine were both national champions in martial arts.
Delgado can relate easily to troubled youth because his own gang lifestyle eventually landed him in jail. An 18-month sentence at a California youth detention facility convinced him to turn his life around.
“While I was incarcerated I had a lot of time to think,” he says. “So, when I was released I decided to leave the gang culture and lifestyle. The catalyst for this change was my family and everything I was putting them through.”
He earned his high school diploma, trained and advanced his skills as an amateur boxer/martial arts fighter and worked for 26 years for Coors before launching his gym in 1997. A proud grandfather, businessman and promoter, Delgado has a third degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do and has belted in Jiu Jitsu and Kenpo Karate.
This month, Alvarado and Delgado are training in L.A. in preparation for Alvarado’s next big HBO matchup scheduled for this summer. In April, Alvarado won a 10-round unanimous decision over Mauricio Herrera in Las Vegas and is now ranked in the top five in all the sanctioning bodies in the 140-pound junior welterweight division, Delgado says.
Boxing is a grueling, brutal sport requiring stamina, speed, endurance and mental toughness. Besides determination and ganas, Delgado says that a professional boxer needs good management and a good promotion company to succeed competitively.
Having survived a gang lifestyle, achieved business goals and raised a close-knit family, Delgado enjoys helping others through athletic training, health awareness and spiritual growth. His gym has evolved into a community resource for youth diversion and personal discipline and accountability.
“All I have to do is plant the seed,” he explains. “They just want to know that they’re not alone and that they don’t have to go through things alone.”
“All students learn discipline and how to apply that discipline to other areas of their lives. We hold each student accountable for their actions, their grades in school and their dedication to their self improvement.”