World Champion And Portland Native Steve Forbes Is On A Mission To Bring Boxing Back To PDX

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I grew up watching boxing and clearly remember my father discussing the upcoming matches and my mother disagreeing with him on his predictions in the middle of breakfast or dinner. I remember looking up to them and realizing how knowledgeable they were about this sport I had grown to enjoy watching with both of them.  They both had a 50/50 percent of success in their prediction so it was always fun to watch them debate and wait for the day to come and find out who of the two would smile while the other pretended to not care.

With that said, boxing has always been part of who I am. Having been exposed to it from an early age has had an influence on who I am. And while I have never personally stepped into a ring, I can tell you first hand, I have felt the fire of each match I watched.

Understanding and appreciating the effort it took to get the win is something thrilling and fun because with boxing, it isn’t just something you watch and forget about. Boxing is something that hits you with intensity and to the core.

Fast forward a couple of decades—well, maybe more like three decades—and here I am, fortunate enough to be diving into the world of boxing as a writer with nothing on my side but my parents teachings and a high interest and curiosity to learn more about the sport my parents taught me about. I have to say, though, this could never happen if it wasn’t for the warm welcome all of the  boxers I have spoken to from day one. It is my honor to have the opportunity to share their story, their success and their struggles, the story of boxing in the Pacific Northwest one story at a time.

With that said, it is my hope that this piece will allow you if you are a boxing fan to learn and take part of history in the making. And if you had never have experienced it, that it may intrigue you enough to want to learn more as you take a look into the mind of the personal experience a boxer shares with us at this time.

But most important, it is my hope that we all gain an understanding of what a boxer’s ultimate goal is. Because it is often less about them, and more about those they love, the place they come from and those following their footsteps.

Let us take a look at Portland’s very own World Champion Steve Forbes; his journey as the man he has become, the work that went into becoming a world champion and his commitment of bringing boxing back to Portland, Oregon. He was joined by promoter and business partner Cristina Lunzman.


OSN: I understand you are on a quest to bring back boxing to the Portland area. Tell me a little bit about that.

Steve: Portland has always has had really good boxers, but a lot of the guys, even me growing up, got in trouble because there was no boxing, especially any pro-program that kept going. A lot of these guys had to go other places, like me, when I turned pro, I went to Las Vegas, and Las Vegas kind of took me in and they were always saying “Oh he is from Vegas”, but I was like, “No, I am from Portland, Oregon” but I am getting more credit being out here so it’s always been kind of a dream since I was a kid to come back here and kind of bring some boxing here. And with her, same thing she always wanted to be a promoter, a female boxer promoter, so we kind of teamed up.

OSN: How is Oregon taking your goal to bring boxing back?

Steve: We sort of challenged the commission. So we went to the commission, talked to them, asked questions and kind of challenged them. They went back to the board of directors and made it happen.So we were able to be the first ones to have a Pro-Event here in Oregon.

OSN – How long of a process was that? Again, some would say there is a lot of resistance when it comes to supporting boxing in this area. How did you keep the vision moving forward and not give up by saying, “No, this is not going to happen.”

Cristina – Well, I think it helped, that you know he (pointing at Steve) is a fighter and me I was a boxing manager, but really wasn’t managing anybody because I was just starting out with that. But I think based in our experience, that I have owned several businesses, we were able to go through the right steps. Not anybody can just walk in and be a promoter. Because there are a lot of things that you have to go through.

OSN – You have some pretty good names in the card. What has the process to pull the card together been like?

Steve – You know it’s funny because I mentioned one day, you know what, I think, the next show I will fight as well. And I said – you know what will be cool, is if we get the hot prospects, you know some guys from around here, you know that I know.

I grew up with Lorenzo Caldera’s uncle – George Caldera. He boxed. We boxed at the same time. He started before me and he used to beat me up every day. So, it’s funny. I got to learn boxing from them and then he didn’t go on pro and then also Lorenzo’s dad was a coach at Knott Street that’s where I started at so Lorenzo was boxing and I said “you know this would be cool if he wants to have his pro-day view” that would be good and then we reached out to Victor (Morales) because Victor also boxed at a gym that I boxed at when I was a youngster which is West Portland and with Bill Merks and all those guys. I boxed there when I was 15, 16 years old. So I said, Victor is a nice hot prospect right now, what about if we can get him on? And then with Eaglepipe – he fought in our second show. At our last pro-show. At the Jackson Armory and I saw all the support Eaglepipe had.

So after that I said “you know what would be cool? If we got all these guys from Oregon, fighting in Oregon. Because a lot of times these guys have to go out and fight in Washington, California, in different places; they don’t ever get the chance to fight at home. They are always on the road, so I said “You know what it would be good for myself to do it too. You know I have fought out of Vegas, but that wasn’t my home. And every time I ever fought in Oregon, it was always a nice crowd, always got a lot of support. And I said to myself “I wonder why my promoters never brought me back here more often?” That’s because they were from other places. So I said, “you know what? If I am my own promoter and I continue to come back and fight – which I haven’t fought in four or five years – you know I started working out- I said “It would be greats for guys here to fight”.

And we are going to bring other fighters that people have seen in ESPN to Oregon, you know that the Oregon area can get the chance to be up close and see some real good boxers. That was kind of the way, this thing started. So I said – “You know what would be cool?” Let’s see if these guys are available. So we started calling around and opened up. And everybody is excited.

Cristina – So excited! Everyone is so excited. And you know it is pretty cool because Lorenzo (Calderas) fought in our amateur show and we also did some belts for this show and he was one who won the belt. So he was able to make his preview here  you know here at home.

And I mean it was unfortunate that Steve wasn’t able to do that. A lot of the other fighters, is just hard that they have to go elsewhere instead of here. We have the community to support it. And we have some great fighters.

OSN – We do, you are definitely right! One of the conversations I’ve had with coaches in the last few years is that the challenge is opportunities. And no one is interested on creating opportunities. And of course money! A lot of these kids have really good talent, but they don’t have the money to travel all over the country, and as Coach Freddy Coronado shared once “The thing is we have a lot of talent but only a few are recognized because they have the money to make it to other places.” So I know firsthand that this is huge for Oregon.

Cristina – Yes it is!

OSN – Steve you are back on the ring. That has to be exciting! I see that you have been training with  Molly McConnell. How is that dynamic?

Steve – You know what, it’s funny because I remember when I won the world title. Molly was training at West Portland, and I would come down and visit and I would always talk to Molly and she was a national champion then, and it’s funny because we fast forward years later and I would go into Molly’s gym, just to kind of watch the guys and she kept saying to me “You want to spar? You want to get in there and work out?” And I would say “No, not really.”

After a while I said, “okay, if I come back, who is somebody that I respect? – male/female – it doesn’t matter. Someone I respect that I know is serious?” Molly was the number one person that I thought of.

She is a great person and she has a great gym, great atmosphere. She doesn’t mess around. She is serious. So she and I had a conversation and she was like “alright Steve, if you are going to do this I know you are serious. I am going to be serious too. Let’s see what happens.

Cristina – She was pretty straight forward. She would say  “let’s work on that – change that – we got to modify this or do that”  and it works you know?

Steve – She and I have, we understand boxing the same way because my amateur coach, was her amateur coach – Bill Mercks – that got me to the nationals, got her to be a national champion, so we kind of got the same thought process as far as boxing goes.

So I said to myself – “Who is the person I can gravitate towards and we speak the same language?” Molly was the number one person. All the other coaches I have worked with throughout my career, they’re retired or passed away, or you know they are not involved anymore. They are older. So Molly, it was perfect.

Cristina – Here you have two world champions working together. I mean how better can that get?

OSN – That says for sure a lot about Portland!

Cristina – And you know Portland doesn’t recognize a lot of those people that are great like Steve and Molly. I think that it’s kind of downplayed a little bit. I mean we will go to California or Vegas and they immediately acknowledge him!

Steve Forbes – Oh yeah or New York!

Cristina Lunzman – But here in their hometown, not so much and that’s pretty sad.

OSN –  You are back on the ring – What can we expect from you? It’s been four years.

Steve – You know what? I’ve been saying this, and it’s true. You know I was born weighing two pounds, I’ve struggled throughout life yet became a champion. But I’ve always said there is something about Oregonians. Oregon breeds legends. I mean if you look at athletes. Even football, basketball, we have some legendary people but they move to other places and they do other things. And I’ve always said “you know what I have a goal and that is to bring boxing back to Portland.”

It is one of those goals that now that I am self-promoted I want to do something that has never been done. I won a world-title in the year 2000. I am coming back in the year 2019. My goal was to fight for a significant championship here in Oregon. Twenty years after I won the first one. That’s never been done. I talked to a lot of people and they said “that is amazing, the fact that you can still get in there.”

I’ve been sparring and working out with guys. Even Lorenzo has been giving me rounds in the gym. Been helping me get ready. I’ve been helping him get ready. And you know I would like to give myself a chance to challenge a championship by the year 2020. I think it would be something historical.

And you know I would like to see all of these guys get title fights here in their own state, where they are from. Since Oregon, has always been sort of the underdog state. Where we have to travel everywhere. We don’t get the benefit of the doubt with anything. But now, you know, like I told you. I went away to start my career. I went away so that those guys didn’t have to. So I am coming back, opening myself up and you know for me, I want to get myself in really good condition and do some fights.

You know, we will probably do. We are looking into doing three shows this year. If we can squeeze in a fourth one, we will. But three, and by next year we will do three more. And hopefully by the end of that year I will get a significant shot at a title, whether it’s North American title or World Title or even an Intercontinental.

I just want to kick it off now and also letting these guys, maneuver their career, have some say so in their careers. To be guided by people that care about them. Because a lot of times, these guys would go to other places, get signed with these other people from other places, where no body cares. Their family is not involved.

Cristina – What I like is that in the gym Steve will be working out and he will see somebody, doing something wrong, from the corner of his eye and he will stop what he is doing and he will go over there and say “hey, can I show you something?” One of the girls, one of the women is working on a shoulder roll, so she’s been working at it, working at it and he has been helping her, which is great. So these athletes, you know have a mentor. You know, somebody.

They got two world champions in the gym – Molly and Steve, you know how good can that get? To show them these type of techniques. People will call him and be like “hey, what do you think about this?” So for me is great to see him giving back to the community.

OSN – That is great! So you are all about doing and not talking! I like that!

Cristina – Yeah. Giving back to the community. There are a lot of things that we do, that we do not publicize out there, but we are always wanting to give  back to the community.

Steve – Yeah, I really want to help. I want to help these guys and girls. You know, become the best they can be. Like I told Victor (Morales). He goes to CA and train. And I said “Victor, that is one of the smartest things you can do. You go there, and you are working out with these different world champions. And then you can come back here and you fight in front of your crowd. Other people are going to get inspired.”

That’s what I did. I had to go and trained with several world champions, even before I became a champion. And it helped me have the confidence, and even afterwards, I still helped other champions prepare for fights. So I said, “I think we are going to start, almost like a lead of guys, who are rising.” And that is what look forward to doing.

OSN – Well, it certainly can’t get more real than this! So both of you have mentioned something “women” that’s another topic we have covered before. There are not that many opportunities for female boxers. Are you thinking about doing something about that as well?

Cristina – You  know, at our first couple of shows we looked into it, and you are right there are not that many female boxers out there. But you know we hope we can get something in July to help fighters get in the show. And you know, we have actually reached out all the way to Canada for fighters. There are scarce. And a lot of women have to go up and down in weight for classes. And for the men they don’t have to stabilize, they can go up and down on the weight if they want, but for women they are going up a significant amount of weight and down!

OSN – Correct. And conversations we’ve had with the boxing community, the message is the same, there aren’t enough fighters out there. So let’s talk about the venue. Why the Clackamas Armory?

Cristina & Steve in unison – More room!

Cristina – We expect a bigger crowd than what we have had before. Basically since we have Steve and the other guys fighting on the show, we basically need more space for this show.

OSN – This sounds super fun! But, let’s be honest. It’s a major event! How are the logistics coming all together? How do you guys divide the responsibilities?

Cristina – Technically with the other shows we have been able to do a lot together. We still do a lot together for this show, but my main concern for this show is fighting. He is a fighter first, so we are still doing the promotion together, but I am feeling a lot of it.

Steve – It takes a lot and she is doing a lot! She is doing great! You know, I mean, being that people think that we have a big staff, and yeah we have people doing other things, but is mostly her making the calls and saying “hey can you do this, can you do that?” And then she is probably the most organized person I’ve ever met in my life. Yeah she is.  There is a lot of details and with that it makes it a lot better. And the commission is great to work with because she reaches out to them for everything.

Cristina – Well, with the commission, you know there are two females (Trish & Josie) that I had talk to. Even before we started this, being a female promoter. You know, you have to work harder, because it is a predominantly male sport and you don’t get the respect. You know, and you sometimes have to put people in their place in a nice manner.  You know because I am a nice person. But I will not be a pushover and allow guys to tell me what I should or shouldn’t do within my own company.

Steve – That’s when I will come in.

Cristina – If there is somebody I feel is going a certain way. I will ask him to come over and talk to them or handle it or vice versa. So we balance each other out. We work together as a team and this is something that we can enjoy. And you know if you were to have other people come in and do other things, they are not as passionate as we are. This is our life, this is our baby, this is our company. So we are all in it.

OSN – Great! Anything you would like to tell our audience? For those craving for more boxing.

Steve – Well, that changes from now on. We are going to get you a lot of boxing here in the Portland metro area.

Cristina – And we need the support! We need people to come out. We have done this you know without sponsors. It would be great to be able to bring some great people from other places. I mean he has a lot of connections. Being a pro-fighter you know. We can find contenders. We have been putting in the work. My idea, our idea is Moda Center. We want big. We want Moda Center, we want big names. We want that support, but you know we need people to come out.


To say that Steve and Cristina’s energy is contagious it simply isn’t enough. Their enthusiasm as they prepare for this event is exciting, inspiring and for sure sounds like a lot of work they seem to be enjoying for sure.

I would say both Steve and Cristina have done their part so far. Their part in giving back to the boxing community many often forget about in our home state. Regardless of as Steve put it “breeding champions” Oregon hasn’t caught up to the world wide craze that boxing is about.

It is my hope both the boxing community and athletic officials in the state are paying close attention to this dynamic duo we have at 2Pound Sports & Enterntainment. This is only the beginning of something great. The card is one you cannot miss. If you are a local fan, you are familiar with some of the faces that will be there. If you are not, this is the perfect time to become acquainted, it simply hasn’t gotten this good in Portland Oregon in a long while.

So mark your calendars and prepare for the beginning of what seems to be a promising journey for boxers, trainers and fans. Steve Forbes comes back to the ring this coming April 6th at the Clackamas Armory and we will be there to witness once more how 2Pound – beats the odds again! For information and tickets visit 2POUND SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT website.

Clackamas Armory 6:30pm

April 6th, 2019 fight card

Tickets

153 lbs Steve “2pound” Forbes, Portland, OR VS Tavorus Teague, Paramount, CA 7 Rounds

127 lbs Victor Morales jr. “El Tornado” (10-0 6ko) Vancouver, WA VS Marcelo Gallardo, (7-4-2 3ko) Renton, WA 8 Rounds

126 lbs Blaiwas Eaglepipe (1-1) Salem, OR VS Alonzo Mejia (Pro-debut) Salem, OR 5 Rounds

135 lbs Lorenzo “ El Matador” Caldera, (Pro debut) Portland, OR VS Jacob Kremer, (Pro Debut) WA 4 Rounds

145 lbs Daquan Wyatt, (2-0) Las Vegas, NV VS Somethonit “Nit the Brick” Phoumychack (0-5) CA 4 Rounds

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About Author

Miriam B. Dye

Miriam B. Dye has been watching her father root for his teams from the day she was born. It is from him that she learned the amazing world of sports. Miriam is a native of Mexico City, but after having lived for almost three decades in the USA she calls Portland home. Miriam is a mother to Tiara- a college student, James - a senior in high school and Nyah- a first grader. A business development and marketing professional, she loves traveling, photography and global cuisine. If she is not writing, in the kitchen cooking with her children or traveling, you can find her bungee cord jumping or art gallery hopping with her husband Steve. She loves sports, writing and values the opportunity to reach OSN's readers every chance she can.

1 Comment

  1. Fantastic will be apart of anything Steve and Christina do for the sport of boxing. It’s a unique and awesome opportunity no longer an option for our community’s to enjoy and love getting out to support one another.

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