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HomeHistoryJose Alonzo Named to Boxing Hall of Fame

Jose Alonzo Named to Boxing Hall of Fame

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On Dec. 26, 2023, long-time Hernando County resident Jose “Chelo” Alonzo received the call that he would be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame on June 23 of this year. “That is a call I never thought I would get,” Alonzo said. At 3:14 p.m., he picked up the phone. On the other end was the President of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, Steve Canton, who was calling to congratulate the boxer on being named to the class of 2024. With his induction, Alonzo became the first Hernando County resident to ever hold a professional boxing title.

Chelo first heard he was being considered for this award during the 2023 Inaugural Jose Chelo Alonzo Classic tournament held by Coach Jackie Wilson and Team Wolfpack Boxing in Brooksville. Alonzo’s former trainer and Hall of Fame Inductee Don Kahn, Hall of Fame Inductee Orlando Fernandez, and his former manager and trainer John Cassella spoke at the event. It was during the trio’s speech that he learned that he might receive the honor. In an interview on Wednesday, Alonzo expressed his heartfelt appreciation for the help of the people of Hernando County during his journey to the Boxing Hall of Fame.

“I really would like to thank Hernando County and this community for always supporting me, believing in me, and just being part of my journey […] There is no community better than Hernando County,” Alonzo said. “I love Hernando County, I love the people in it, and I thank them with all I have for being there in my boxing career and being there when I was fighting for my life. This community came together for my family and I, and I cannot thank them enough.”

From left to right: Don Kahn, a younger Alonzo, Jim McLoughlin.
From left to right: Don Kahn, a younger Alonzo, Jim McLoughlin.

Before moving to the county roughly 35 years ago, he spent his formative years in Puerto Rico after moving there from northern New Jersey. When Chelo was a small child, he begged his mother to let him go to the island commonwealth. After enough insistence, she allowed Chelo to travel to Puerto Rico with his uncle Jose Rios when the boy reached the age of seven. Alonzo soon enrolled in a school there, but things were not what he had hoped.

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“Me growing up, I thought that going to Puerto Rico, everybody was going to love me because I speak Spanish, my family is from Puerto Rico, and so on,” Alonzo said. “But when I went up there, the kids did not like me because they said I was from the United States. So, I pretty much was struggling in school as far as I can remember, but I had As in English […] So, the kids tried to bully me, and I was pretty much fighting every day.”

The challenges Alonzo faced due to being treated as an outsider became so great that his great-grandfather considered sending the 7-year-old back to his home state. The options were either to do something about it or go home. The young Alonzo and his uncle, whom he called Dio Jungo, chose to train at a boxing gym in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. When they first arrived, Rios “put me in the ring” against a 14-year-old who likely had many amateur fights under his belt. With no experience to speak of, Alonzo managed to knock the other fighter down once in the first round. The rest of the fight did not go so well for Chelo after that. Despite the inauspicious start to boxing, Alonzo immediately fell in love with the sport. Thus began the boxer’s story of resilience and determination.

The fighter went on to have an accomplished career inside and outside of boxing, including a Florida Golden Glove title in 1993. Alonzo also secured the WBA Fedecentro Championship in 2003 and a Florida state title in the Super Middleweight Division (168 pounds) on November 11, 2011. After surviving gunshot wounds sustained outside of a local dance hall in 2018, Chelo turned his focus toward health and fitness following a lengthy recovery. He is not only a certified personal trainer but now a co-owner of Florida’s A Team Realty as well.

From left to right: Trainer Don Kahn, Alonzo, manager/trainer John Cassella.
From left to right: Trainer Don Kahn, Alonzo, manager/trainer John Cassella.

“I believe that Chelo’s story is not only one of triumph in the boxing ring but also a testament to the indomitable human spirit,” said Thomas McLaren, Director of Marketing, Florida’s A Team Realty. “His recent induction into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame serves as a testament to his contributions to the sport and the community.”

Alonzo also wanted to thank his family, friends, and other acquaintances who helped him to have such a successful career in the ring: his wife Cristina, his father Pai, his mother Wanda, his children Jose and Nyasia, Don Kahn, John Cassella, Orlando Fernandez, Damon Gonzalez, Jim McLaughlin, David Lopez, Leo Thalassites, Peter Fernandez, Aaron Jacobs, Anthony Vazquez, Freddy Vazquez, Chico Rivera, Ricky Marquez, Ramesis Jil, Kevin Conner, Edwardo Pereira Jr., Raymond And Nancy Ramos, the Aldamuy Family, the Verdi Family, the Gonzalez Family, Cecil Lalas, and Henry Rolland.

2024 Boxing Hall of Fame Inductees Credit: Larry Jackson
2024 Boxing Hall of Fame Inductees Credit: Larry Jackson

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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