Mark Reyes—Father, Fighter, Philanthropist

By Marc Livitz on October 4, 2018
Mark Reyes—Father, Fighter, Philanthropist
Saturday night in St. Petersburg, Fla., Reyes will face off against Juan Jesus Rivera Garces.

“There’s very few good people on the business side of the sport. It’s the same in life but even more of a rarity in boxing…”

Throughout much of recent boxing history, there have been few weight classes within the sport that have captured as much lightning as the welterweight division. Without necessarily mentioning the current best of the best or even the ghosts of punching past, some of the most legendary names have graced the 147-pound fraternity.

Depending on who is asked, the top pound-for-pound fighter on the planet may be himself a welterweight, while a few others within the division simply won’t ride off into the pugilistic sunset. The city of Tampa, Florida is no stranger to lightning, of course. After all, the very word ‘Tampa’ is said to have originally emerged from the language used by the early inhabitants of the land to describe the magnificent fires which adorned the sky.

On Saturday, October 6 at the Coliseum in nearby St. Petersburg, local welterweight talent Mark Reyes will have his first shot at a regional title when he faces off against a veteran of nearly fifty professional contests, Juan Jesus Rivera Garces. Twenty-two-year-old Reyes (7-0, 5 KO’s) is heading to the ring with high hopes, yet little nerves for what will serve as his debut contest at eight possible rounds. Since turning professional in the spring of 2016, Mark’s fought four fights of the four-round variety, while the remaining three were six-round bouts. He’ll take part in the co-headlining fight of the evening and his clash with Garces (28-21, 18 KO’s) will be for the vacant American Boxing Federation Continental Americas Welterweight title.

“This is my first eight-round fight and it’s for a Continental belt,” said the unbeaten father of two during a recent interview. “I don’t get too nervous. There’s just a lot of anticipation and the desire to get to the outcome. I’m always motivated by my supporters and my family.”

In recent years, the Sunshine State has produced some great talents in boxing such as Roy Jones, Jr. and Ronald “Winky” Wright. Mark spoke briefly of the current boxing landscape within his hometown of Tampa and he appears to understand the importance of carrying the proverbial torch. He furthermore credits his father for introducing him to the sport at a young age and acknowledges that a life between the ropes likely saved him from a one less favorable.

“There’s lots of fans here in Tampa, but not a lot of actual boxers,” he said.  “I started boxing at the age of six. My dad saw that I had a lot of energy and that I was a hyper kid with ADHD. So, instead of medication, he decided to try to put me into something that would give a good outlet. I didn’t want to be stuck at home playing games or getting into trouble.”

Mark’s young journey into the professional ranks began with a stint in the amateur theater, where he found success stateside as well as within a nearby territory. He commented, “I fought about forty-five fights as an amateur. I lost maybe seven times. I won three national tournaments in the United States and two nationals in Puerto Rico.”

Although Reyes has been a professional fighter for just over two years, the undefeated regional contender has already had a taste of what success can bring, both welcomed and not so much so. It’s not unique, of course, and there will always be those who are quick to remind an individual who has found a comfortable niche in life of such sentiments as, “I’ve always been here for you” or “I was there for you when you had nothing.” Mark admitted that he was forced to understand the unfortunate nature of the business right away. The open, amiable and lifelong resident of Tampa further elaborated.

“It requires lots of discipline,” he said. “There’s lots of obstacles in training camp and I didn’t know whether or not if I could overcome the adversity. There’s very few good people on the business side of the sport. It’s the same in life but even more of a rarity in boxing. You have to know how to keep from burning bridges and distance yourself to not let people into your circle. There’s lots of insects and reptiles. People want to make quick money off of you and then leave. If you happen to get ruined in the process, then they’re gone.”

For now, Mark is content to earn his stripes in the welterweight class as he patiently waits for bigger and better opportunities. “That’s the biggest thing,” said Reyes. “The ability to remain patient and keep working hard. Welterweight is probably the most talented division with lots of hungry fighters gunning for the top spot.”

As a full-time fighter as well as full-time dad, he knows the importance of time management and how life always seems to throw curveballs at us at the most inappropriate times. He experienced it firsthand as he prepared for his third professional bout nearly two years ago. At the tender of twenty, Mark had to deal with joyous beginnings as well as somber endings at the same time.

“My third fight was against a very tough but not a very talented guy,” he vividly remembered. “My daughter was born that September, so I took over a month off from training. My great-grandfather was dying as well, so I was either at the hospital for him or for her. I took that fight at the last minute. I had to lose ten pounds the day before it.” He was able to prevail by way of a four-round, unanimous decision.

The eighth fight of his professional career is now at hand and as he prepares for it, Mark understands the need to give back to the community he calls home. Saturday’s contests at the Coliseum will also serve as a fundraiser for a great cause. “These fights are dedicated to The Children’s Youth Cancer Center of Tampa,” he said.

“I recently did some boxing stuff with them. We’ll have balloon artists and face painting, too. We’ve donated twenty tickets and we’ll be selling bobble heads. Fifty percent of the sales will be donated to them.”

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  1. Casanovita de Ahome 04:10pm, 10/04/2018

    @Pootie Tang-Go right ahead. BTW the 411 that you have contributed to over the years has saved a lot of the “experts” on here hours and hours of Googling!

  2. Pootie Tang 01:08pm, 10/04/2018

    Casanovita… I hear ya, brother. “skid mark in the toilet bowl of life.” lolol Damn, that is one helluva quote, Casanovita.  Would like to borrow that one in the future, with your permission of course, sir.

  3. Casanovita de Ahome 10:05am, 10/04/2018

    @Pootie Tang-Keep pootin’ man! This is not a serious sport any Goddamned way! The only thing that really matters is that Magomed can’t walk or talk and Prichard Colon is in a vegetative state….all the rest is one big skid mark in the toilet bowl of life!

  4. Pootie Tang 09:41am, 10/04/2018

    Keith Thurman is from nearby Clearwater, which is about 30 miles from Tampa, give or take, and you had Jeff Lacy from St. Pete. John Mugabi adopted Tampa as his hometown back in the day, but yeah, the Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater area isn’t really noted for producing boxers. Who the hell wants to spend time in a smelly boxing gym when you have beautiful weather nearly year round, and beaches to enjoy. The Gulf Coast of Florida has produced its share of pro rasslers and pro baseball players though, and it has to have the most strip joints per capita of any city in America.

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