“When the mind is sound, everything else follows.” A philosophy that Coach Felix Montanez likes to instill in competitors, that was the attitude with which he and boxer Jason “The Glitch” Nguyen approached adversity in Jason’s victory at the Signature Punch Boxing Tournament on Saturday. Earlier that afternoon, mere hours before his fight was scheduled to take place, Nguyen’s opponent – Jalen Murray – was unable to attend their match in the 135-pound weight class. This meant that the 22-year-old boxer would have to be assigned a new opponent. All of the studying the pair had done in anticipation for their previous opponent would no longer be applicable against new combatant Daniel Romero. That does not mean all of Jason’s preparation was for naught, though.
“We did do homework on an opponent that was no longer there, but we just made adjustments accordingly,” Coach Montanez said. “When you prepare to fight and to compete, you prepare for whatever comes. We did exactly that and it showed… It took all three rounds and he won unanimously on every round. He won every round convincingly. There wasn’t a round where it could’ve went one way or another. It was a unanimous decision.”
Jason’s preparation for moments like these began four years ago as an 18-year-old kid just out of Central High School. That was when he and Coach Montanez started to train together. At first, they would exercise just about anywhere they could for lack of a true permanent place to train. Now the duo operates out of Progear Gym at Lift More Fitness on Sakera Road in Hudson.
Though they have only operated out of their current location for two years, owners Mike and Sarah Oliva started Progear eight years ago as a more traditional style training facility. Over time, as the two moved their operations to different locations, they eventually settled at a location that seemed conducive to a “warehouse style” gym. As he had never seen one locally, Mr. Oliva was “super nervous” but excited to introduce the public to their non-traditional gym. Since their most recent change in venue, Progear has allowed Coach Montanez to train Jason and other fighters at their establishment. Vinny Turiello, a bare-knuckle fighter working with Coach Montanez, is preparing for a title bout in the 125-pound weight class in November.
Depending on the schedule, Nguyen and Coach Montanez will work out “six to seven days a week” in the evenings staying as late as midnight in some cases. “I feel so great right now,” Nguyen said. “We had a good camp. Some days we’re working twice a day. I used to have problems trying to stay on weight, but now it’s like since we’re working twice a day, it’s easy to cut down that weight.” When the 22-year-old boxer weighed in at Saturday’s competition, the scale read 133 and a half pounds. Combined with cutting out various unhealthy foods, these practices have helped him progress from suffering a contested loss in his first fight to currently enjoying a six-game winning streak following Saturday’s victory.
Nguyen’s accomplishments extend beyond the ring as well as he has already received his associates degree and was recently accepted to the University of Central Florida where he plans to study kinesiology. The boxing coach is very proud of Jason and lauded the young boxer as “every coach’s dream” due to his hard work and humility.
But Nguyen and Coach Montanez know that there is always work to be done to get better every day. With each victory and each loss, lessons can be learned that can help make Jason a better fighter. “We looked at tape and some things to study and go back to the drawing board,” Coach Montanez said. “Work on things and, like I said, continue to grow from every experience and every fight.”