Amateur boxer Mario Rivera spars with boxing coach Don Rawson. Rawson has been boxing since 1954. Since evolving form boxer to boxing coach, Rawson has trained some of the top US fighters including the 2010 World Amateur Boxing Champion Elmer Rivera Sr., Mario’s father. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Get ready Mesquite boxing fans; a semi new amateur is putting on the gloves and ‘puttin up the fists’ on Saturday, Feb. 15 at Richard Steele boxing club, 2475 W. Cheyenne Blvd. #110, Las Vegas, NV. The event will include music, food and raffles.

Why pay attention to this amateur? First because 20-year old Scenic, AZ resident, Mario Rivera, is quite the impressive young man. He is, at a very young age, a journeyman tile setter, having been tiling since he was eight with his dad who owns his own business. He’s a college student, currently taking general courses in Psychology and Oral Communications and he’s a boxer who has been training hard for several years, beginning at the old Mesquite Boxing Club and now at his Coach’s home.

His coach/trainer is the second reason you need to watch this Mesquite youth. Don Rawson has been training champions for decades and has been boxing himself since 1954. In 1958 he joined the Marine Corps.; he was a boxer in the Marines until an accident forced a medical retirement. In 1961 Rawson said he wasn’t smart enough to realize that he was done with boxing and went back into the gym but rather than boxing, he evolved into coaching. In 1962 he was the coach to the second place Jr. Golden Gloves team in Los Angeles, CA.

Amateur boxer, Mario Rivera says his favorite piece of equipment is the heavy bag because he can move around the bag. The heavy bag is uniquely mounted on a track that moves back and forth which better simulates a real boxing experience. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Rawson moved to Mesquite about 25 years ago and began the Mesquite Boxing Gym which he ran for 17 years. He also taught boxing overseas in the Mariana Islands, including Saipan, for 6 years.

In those years Coach Rawson has trained three of the best fighters in the US including Danny Ramirez, Miguel Beltran and Brandon Everett who fought in the US Nationals and Elmer Rivera Sr. who was the 2010 Amateur World Boxing Champion.

Elmer Rivera is the third reason you need to watch young Mario; he is his son, and the gloves didn’t fall far from the hand that raised him.

Mario has obviously been inspired by his dad who four years before he became the World Champion weighed an astonishingly 342 pounds.

Rawson said, “When Elmer came into the gym, he was 342 pounds, but I could see that he could move a little bit. I asked Elmer is anyone was working with him, Elmer said, “No.” I told him I wanted to start working with him and he had two options. He could train like everyone else around here and run to the bathroom every time the hard work starts, or you can take this serious and be like a professional fighter.”

Rawson explained that Elmer took things seriously, trained hard and in a short time weighed in at 195 pounds, ready to fight. Rawson said he went from the 342-pound novice to Amateur World Champion in just four years.

Young Mario is ready set and willing to put on the gloves and follow his father’s lead as a dedicated and hard-working man. He currently trains six days a week and runs seven miles each day independently from the formal boxing training. His favorite piece of equipment is the heavy bag because he can move around the bag. The heavy bag is uniquely mounted on a track that moves back and forth which better simulates a real boxing experience.

Rivera even find the time and opportunity to entertain you on the Mesquite Community Theatre Stage.

Rivera participated in drama at Virgin Valley High School and loves theater. He hasn’t decided yet but is interested in pursuing a theater degree in college. He is being encouraged to audition for the Virgin Valley Theatre Group’s upcoming Melodrama. He says that he’s a lot like his dad and if something interests him, he’ll always find time for it especially the upcoming fight in Feb.

Rivera hopes that some of you boxing fans will make the trip on Feb. 15 and enjoy the day at Richard Steele’s Boxing Club watching some promising young fighters who’ll be putting on the gloves and ‘puttin up their fists’.

For more information on amateur boxing and this event visit the Richard Steele Foundation website at