Both David Castro and Miguel Fields never thought they’d step foot back into a boxing ring the day after Nov. 2, 2016.
That’s the date that long-time Hit Squad Boxing Center Trainer Taj Fields was gunned down by a former protege in the doorway of his business in front of one of his sons.
“It was difficult getting back in there, my coach wasn’t around for this fight, said Castro, a 15-year-old Live Oak High School student who’s been training to be a professional boxer since he was 7-years-old. “Honestly, I never thought I was going to put on a pair of gloves again.”
Castro battled back and returned to the boxing ring last weekend to compete in an amateur 125-pound match in Sacramento where he lost in a close decision to an undefeated fighter.
Miguel Fields, now the owner of the renamed Taj Fields Hit Squad Boxing Gym, said the fact that Castro was even able to bounce back and lace them up again is a testament to his strong-willed character and perseverance.
“David is an inspiration to me,” Miguel Fields said.
Miguel and Castro had little contact following Taj’s death. The gym was closed for about a year-and-a-half with no set reopen date close to being scheduled. Everyone needed time to heal.
Then one day, Miguel Fields came across a random message.
It was from Castro.
He wanted to get back in the ring.
“(That message) got me going on the right track (and) helped me with stuff I was going through too,” Fields said. “We got back down to business.”
Fields always knew Castro was talented even dating back to when he was working with Taj Fields in the upstairs sweatbox of a gym, located in an obscure alley adjacent to the Marysville Casino and McDonalds on E Street.
Fields said Castro’s return to the sport helped everyone get back on its feet.
“I never thought I would be back in here,” Fields said. “Not everyone who trained with my dad is back in this gym. But David is a strong kid and he pushed through the unthinkable.”
Castro said he learned a lot from Taj Fields and owes much of his resilience to the late boxing trainer of Marysville.
“To me he is one of the best coaches ever,” Castro said. “He loved this sport and he died for the sport.”
Castro’s next fight is tentatively set for Sept. 14 in Sacramento.