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Pro Boxer Mikey Garcia Wins His Return Fight by Knockout on Showtime

RIVERSIDE, CA- On Saturday night, July 30, 2016, twenty-eight year old professional boxer Mikey Garcia returned to the ring at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, after a two and a half year layoff due to a contract dispute with his former promotional company, Top Rank. On the Showtime televised broadcast, Garcia knocked down former WBC World Featherweight Champion Elio Rojas four times, before referee Eddie Claudio called an end to the fight at 2:02 of Round 5. Following Saturday’s TKO win, Garcia’s record improved to 35-0, with 29 KOs, while Rojas’ record dropped to 24-3, with 14 KOs. Garcia-Rojas was scheduled for ten rounds in the junior welterweight division as the co-main event on the fight card promoted by DiBella Entertainment, in association with Cyclone Promotions, and presented by Premier Boxing Champions. In the main event, Carl Frampton won the WBA Super World Featherweight Title by defeating Leon Santa Cruz by majority decision.

Garcia, a former two-time WBO world champion in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions, last fought on January 25, 2014, when he successfully defended his WBO World Super Featherweight Title in a unanimous decision win against Juan Carlos Burgos on HBO. In October 2014, he vacated the WBO World Super Featherweight Title because he had plans to move up in weight. Mikey grew up in Oxnard, California, trains in Riverside at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, and resides in Moreno Valley.

He shared his thoughts about his winning performance against his opponent, Elio Rojas. “It took me a round or two to get my rhythm going. I had to find that right distance and range to connect my punches. I didn’t feel any ring rust. My defense and footwork were fine, my punches felt sharp and fast, and I felt good with my jab. My opponent used the ring well and demonstrated solid footwork. The plan was always to keep my distance and measure him. It was difficult to land that one big shot, because he kept moving and using his legs. He was smart and he wanted to win. Rojas had good reflexes, and he was able to see me coming in. He kept moving out of the way before I could land a big punch. I worked hard to close the distance, and when it happened, I let my hands go. Once I started landing hard shots, I knew that I hurt him, and eventually he went down.

After the first two knockdowns, Rojas didn’t look like he wanted to be in the ring anymore. The last time that I dropped him, the referee asked him if he wanted to continue. He kept looking down and finally said no. I made a statement by stopping Rojas in my return fight. Everybody at the Barclays Center was cheering, and it was great to get a victory in that manner. I easily made 138 lbs for this fight, and the contracted weight had been set previously at 140 lbs. I felt real comfortable on fight night, so making 135 lbs for my next fight won’t be any problem.”

Mikey discussed his career going forward. “During the past two years, I never went away from boxing. I’ve stayed busy helping other fighters get ready for their fights, and continued making improvements in the gym. I had good sparring prior to this fight, and I had adequate time to prepare. It’s very important that I get right back in the ring again soon. I didn’t have any cuts or abrasions, and my hands feel good. I’m ready for a world title fight right away at 135 lbs. I would love to fight for the WBO World Super Featherweight Title, which is currently held by Terry Flanagan of the UK. If the world title opportunity isn’t available, then I want to be back in the ring as soon as possible so that I can stay active. My next objective is to challenge for a title at 135 lbs, then perhaps unify titles in that division if the opportunity presents itself. After that, a move to 140 lbs would be likely, and I’ll seek world title opportunities there. I’ll target big names and the big fights that fans want to see. There are plenty of big challenges ahead of me. Because of the time away, it’s important to me that I’m moved on the fast track, so that I can face champion after champion. Now that the Rojas fight is over, I plan to resume conversations with boxing promoters. I’m still a free agent and am willing to negotiate a deal if it is in my best interest to do so.

I want to thank Stephen Espinoza, Al Haymon, and Lou DiBella for giving me the opportunity to fight on Saturday night. I also want to thank my sponsors: B&B Plastics Inc., Asanti Wheels, and Everlast. It feels great to be back, but there’s so much more I want to accomplish. This is just the beginning, and I will do my best to give everyone memorable fights. The time off helped me regain that fire, and it motivated me to come back stronger. I’m thankful for all the fan support I’ve received. My performance on Saturday night hopefully reminded everyone what I’m capable of doing inside the ring, and it’s a great way to begin this next stage of my career.

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San Bernardino Valley College Hosts Weeklong Leadership Academy for Young Women

SAN BERNARDINO, CA- A recent series of workshops at San Bernardino Valley College educated young women about the importance of aspiring to leadership roles to bring about change in their local communities.

Sponsored by the BLU Educational Foundation, the Soul Sisters Leadership Academy was launched on July 18 and attended by several dozen local high school and college students, ages 14 to 21. Workshops focused on African American women’s history, self-identity, racism, sexism, and the importance of women taking leadership positions on school and college campuses.

“I am glad that we can discuss the realities of discrimination in a safe and open environment,” says Ana Stewart, an SBVC economics major. “I don’t think there is enough discussion about the challenges of being minority and female in the Inland Empire.”

Debra Robertson, the mayor of Rialto, shared an inspiring account of her own path to becoming the first black mayor of her city, referencing her family’s long history of community involvement.

For more information on the BLU Educational Foundation, visit www.bluedfoundation.org.

Elections 2016: Can the Power of the Black Vote Make Black Lives Matter?

Activists Debate Boycotting Clinton, Police Violence and the Possibility of a Trump Presidency

By Manny Otiko/ California Black Media

Democrats attending their party’s  convention last week in Philadelphia were moved to tears, rounds of applause and a standing ovation when nine mothers of Black men slain by police brutality and racially motivated attacks took the stage. 

“The majority of police officers are good people doing a good job,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of 17-year-old Jordan Davis, who was killed by Michael Dunn, a 45-year-old White male in Jacksonville, Fla.,  after a tense argument at a gas station.

“We’re going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing,” said  Mcbath.   The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown and other men and women who were killed by police or died from gun violence joined McBath  on stage.

Many who attended the convention or watched that heartfelt moment around the country at home viewed the inclusion of “the mothers of the movement” as a signal that the Democratic party is taking the concerns of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement seriously.

But for some that emotional moment on television was just political theater – too simple a gesture with little or no real or lasting impact.  

Hank Newsome, a New York-based attorney and self-described “Black Lives Matter Activist,” is threatening to boycott the presidential elections, unless the Democratic Party takes more and immediate action on police violence.

He and other activists recently  launched the “I Ain’t Voting” campaign to express their anger at the Democratic Party, threatening to persuade Blacks to not vote in 2016.

Black Americans, he says, have a rare chance right now  to collectively demand action from the  Democratic Party –  or at least insist that some of their priorities be included in the party’s 2016 platform  or future policy plans.

“Hey, if you don’t give us criminal justice reform, we’ll give the country to Donald Trump. That’ll send the Democrats into a frenzy. Black lives will matter then, I guarantee you,” said Newsome in an interview with the BBC.

Newsome and a group of other African-American activists protested at both the Democratic National Convention this week and the Republican National Convention before that in Cleveland.

Newsome is not the first to call for African Americans to withhold their votes. Political pundit Tavis Smiley has suggested numerous times that Black Americans should sit out an election to get the Democrats’ attention.

Other activists view the idea of Blacks not voting – or boycotting the 2016 elections in particular – differently.

Dr. Melina Abdullah, for example, who is one of the founders of Black Lives Matter, admits she supports neither Clinton nor Trump. She describes the standard bearers of the two major parties as “corporate candidates” whose positions on issues can be influenced by powerful meg- donors.

She says the BLM movement does not plan to endorse either candidate. If Clinton is the eventual winner of the presidential election, though, she says BLM will continue to demand she pushes for  police reforms.

Unlike Newsome, Abdullah is urging African Americans to get out and vote in November.

“A lot of Black folk say people died for this,” said Abdullah, who is also  professor of Pan-African studies at California State University Los Angeles. “It (voting) is a way of honoring my ancestors.”

Although Abdullah says she respects the right of people who chose to sit out, she plans to cast her vote in November and says she also votes in every election.

For Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Los Angeles-based political analyst and writer, Newsome’s “I Ain’t Voting “campaign is “unrealistic.”

“It’s the height of political naivety,” said Hutchinson. “The stakes are far too high for that kind of pox-on-both-of-your-houses attitude.”

Black Americans vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. If many of them don’t turn out on Election Day – especially in states that have a tendency to vote either Republican or Democrat  like Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina – that could greatly affect Clinton’s chance of winning.

Hutchinson said that instead of sitting out the election, Black voters should get engaged and lobby politicians to take action.

“The better strategy is to organize, educate, and mobilize among young persons about the importance of political engagement to pressure the Dems, local elected officials, and others for police and criminal justice reform,” Hutchinson said. “That can’t happen if you disengage from the process.”

Whether they support the possibility of an African-American boycott of the 2016 elections or not, most Black political activists are extremely critical of Trump and at least ambivalent about a Clinton presidency.

Abdullah calls the billionaire businessman “oppressive on every level.”

“He’s a raving lunatic, fascist and a blatant racist,” she describe Trump.

But she is no fan of Clinton’s either. She described the first female nominee of a major political party in the United States a “war hawk” and pointed out that  Clinton supported domestic policies that expanded the criminalization of Black men and spurred the growth of  the prison industrial complex.

Hutchison says there are more than enough valid criticisms of both candidates to go around, but sitting out the 2016 election is not a beneficial move.

He warned BLM activists about the dangers of boycotting the 2016 election and handing victory to Trump.

“A Trump win will mean stepped up repression of BLM by police forces emboldened by a Trump win, fewer protests, more arrests and convictions,” Hutchinson said. “However, remember BLM is hardly the only or first to organize, mobilize, and make demands for police reform and accountability. That fight has been waged by civil rights groups from the NAACP to my group and civil rights activists for years and will continue.”