One week after winning his first professional title (WBO Youth) in his hometown of Salinas, Calif., prized featherweight prospect Ruben Villa paid a visit to the Monterey County Youth Center where he spoke to at risk adolescents.
“There were a lot of young kids, kids that are still in high school that never really got the guidance that you would want them to have,” said Villa, who sports an undefeated record of 11-0, 4 KOs. “My message was simple. You can still better your life, but you have to find the motivation that’s going to make you want to change.”
Villa, 21, was fortunate to have found the sweet science at an early age. He started boxing the same year he entered kindergarten. Many youth in Monterey County and the greater Salinas area get involved with gangs at a young age and enter a path of criminal behavior that almost always ends in incarceration.
“I just tried telling them my story how boxing kept me focus and out of trouble,” Villa said. “At the end of the day, you need to do right by your community. I think these kids want to change and make their family proud, but they need reinforcement and help.”
Although young himself, Villa has developed a reputation for caring deeply for the area he grew up in. The southpaw is always looking for ways to help.
“It’s just one of the qualities that I saw in Ruben when I signed him,” said manager Danny Zamora. “He is very humble and makes me very proud that he is such a positive role model to the community of Salinas. I am glad that he is giving back to the kids that need it the most.”
The Monterey County Youth Center is a residential facility and aftercare program offering educational and rehabilitation opportunities for juvenile court wards.