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IN YOUR CORNER: Bakersfield fighter makes history for Police Activities League

PAL program helps at-risk youth stay active and off the streets
Posted at 10:19 AM, May 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-10 15:06:23-04

EAST BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bakersfield Police Academy provides a place in east Bakersfield for at-risk youth to stay active and study instead of being on the streets.

  • Video shows Aaron Guzman, a young boxer, training for the national Golden Gloves tournament.
  • BPD officers started the organization in 1994 for at-risk youth.
  • Guzman advanced to the Golden Gloves tournament as they only boxer from Central California to represent the state in Detroit.

This boxing gym might not be the first place you'd think to find Bakersfield police officers, but it may be the only place where those officers encourage fighters to hit each other.
Aaron Guzman a senior from South High, a member of the Police Activities League, prefers the offensive approach to boxing.

“I really don’t like to get hit," he said. "I really don’t like it, especially body shots.”

He’s says he’s been boxing for 5 years and his time inside the ring, silences the stress from the outside world.

“[I] just think about a lot of things sometimes like I have homework or just things I’m thinking about life, and I come here and just take it all out," Guzman said.

Guzman fights under the Police Activities League or PAL.

“The goal of PAL is to bond cops with kids,” Juan Orozco, a senior officer with the Bakersfield Police Department and executive director of the PAL program said.

He tells me a group of BPD officers started the organization in 1994 for at-risk youth.

“It shows them a different side of who law enforcement is, and it provides them an escape from what happens out in the streets,” Orozco added.

Guzman’s coach, Daniel Alcala, says he came out of the program as well and sees the changes it makes in the lives of his fighters.

“Being here on the eastside, it’s a pretty rough neighborhood,” Alcala said.

Although Guzman aged out of the program, he returns to volunteer and serve kids just like him, all while he’s making history for the organization.

“He’s my first ever I’ve had make it to any of the Golden Glove events," Alcala said. "So, he’s already made history with just the PAL here alone.”

Guzman advances to the Golden Gloves tournament as they only boxer from Central California to represent the state in Detroit.

In his weight class, he may come in as the underdog but Alcala says he’s prepared to compete.

“They’re bigger. They’re bigger than him, but he has fast hands," he said. "He also has power, and he’s ready to rock.”

Beyond the upcoming national championship, Guzman graduates from high school at the end of May.

While he’s not sure what his next bout in life looks like, he wraps up this season, knowing one thing for certain.

“I know for sure I have boxing all the time," Guzman said "I know that for sure.”

Guzman leaves on Saturday to compete in the week-long Golden Gloves tournament.


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