Three-time Golden Gloves champion Jorge Pacheco recalls the exact moment he became dedicated to boxing as a teenager in a bout with an older opponent.
“I was 15, 16 years old, probably 5’4,” 175 pounds, which is kind of chubby, and he was just ripped,” Pacheco said. “During the introduction, he looked at me and grinned, like, this is going to be a great fight, and I just nodded. So we start fighting and he just started wailing on me, just starts punching, just hooks, hooks. I was just shielding up and then the punches started getting lighter and lighter and I look up and the guy’s exhausted and I’m just [thinking]: It’s my turn. So I just started beating this guy and then the crowd’s getting into it and everybody starts cheering ‘gordito, gordito, gordito!’ For two rounds of me beating this guy, they’re going crazy, people are loving it. Ever since then I was hooked.”
Pacheco said growing up in suburban Aurora, boxing was simply part of his family’s life, as both fans and as boxers themselves.
“It was part of our culture, boxing,” Pacheco said. “The Oscar De La Hoyas, the Fernando Vargas, all the great Mexican fighters, we watched every fight. When I first started boxing, I’d lost a friend and I started eating a lot, so I wanted to lose weight. I asked my father if I could join him to the gym and he said, ‘Sure, come in.’ He wasn’t really expecting me to stick with it.”
Pacheco showed promise as a young boxer and began looking for places to compete.
“We would make our way to Chicago at least a couple times a month to compete in their tournaments, from the Park District tournaments, the CYO, to the Golden Gloves,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco said he fell in love with Chicago’s ethnic tapestry during those tournaments.
“You have Mexicans, Irish, you have the Italians, and they’re beautiful rivalries,” Pacheco said. “It’s not violent or anybody gets upset, but everybody is really into backing their fighter.”
Pacheco went on to win three Golden Gloves championships — in 1997, 1998 and 1999. The belts from those championships and other boxing memorabilia now adorn his office at Apache Service and Supply, the company he founded in 2002.
“We’ve grown to be service provider for a lot of the cooler buildings in Chicago, like the Harold Washington Library,” Pacheco said. “We service Chicago Public Schools, we service hospitals, and it’s been a great journey.”
Though he ultimately opted out of going pro, Pacheco credits lessons learned from his days in the ring throwing punches — and taking them — for his business success.
“I owe my life to boxing,” Pacheco said. “Boxing has taught me perseverance, resilience, hard work, dedication to something. And I’ve transferred that into my business. I’ve been around 20 years and they haven’t been 20 easy years. I inched my way all the way to where I’m at. And I’ve worked hard, and I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. Just like in the ring, sacrifices and hard work equals championships.”
The Chicago Golden Gloves 100th boxing tournament begins this weekend, and championship rounds are April 13-15. Tickets and information can be found on the Golden Gloves website.