By Augusto Morel
Buenos Aires, Nov 16 (EFE).- In one of the most dangerous slums of Buenos Aires, retired boxing champion Jesus Romero pays it forward to his community by making sure youngsters have a fighting chance of getting off the streets and staying away from drugs.
The 67-year-old Argentine runs a boxing gym in Villa 1-11-14 slum, where he provides boys with food, a place to stay and even assists those in need of pricey medical rehabilitation.
Romero began his boxing career when he was nine years old after someone told him during a fight that if he did not go to Luna Park then he was not a boxer.
Shortly after, he bought himself a ticket to the Argentine capital, where this indoor stadium is located.
Romero was living in the northern province of Chaco with his grandmother, to whom he sent a letter that he arrived in Buenos Aires to fulfil his dreams.
All he had with him at the time was a small bag and a pair of boxing gloves, and as soon as he set foot in town he offered to help a merchant move gas cylinders in exchange for food.
This first job led him to a police station located in Bajo Flores neighborhood. There he told his story to the then commissioner, who promised to give him a place to eat and sleep in exchange for finishing school and training.
“Until today, it is my house. They raised me,” he tells Efe, referring to the police station.
With 360 fights, eight defeats and 11 draws, Romero, who used to finish third in the world rankings between 1970 and 1980, retired from professional boxing and founded a gym in Bajo Flores in 2009.