Local boxing club training next generation of stars


At age 13 she is not afraid to square off with the boys. Milana Diaz's family moved to Houston from El Salvador only four years ago. She put on a pair a gloves three years ago and now has a 15-5 record.

And when her girlfriends ask her why she likes to step into the ring, she says why not.

"I think its for both. If the girl is tough and she can take it, I think she can do it with boxing," said Diaz.

She is one of dozens of kids that train at Savannah Boxing Club. It's settled in the Sharpstown-Gulfton area where the owner will tell you it's easy to get into trouble. So the boxing club has become the de facto community center in the area.

On a weekday evening it's packed. But before opening it, Willie Savannah was retired and maybe headed the wrong way himself.

"I said, 'Man. I'm going to go to happy hour like everybody else do.' So I went to happy hour for about two months. I said, 'Man, I wake up every morning with a hangover. There has got to be something better than this,'" Savannah told Eyewitness News.

So he began frequenting boxing matches, then helped out in the corners, and in 1980 opened his first gym. Now the kids training in here are thinking bigger than before.

"I want to study medicine, but boxing is my life, too," said Getzemani Lagunas.

"I'm working at getting a lot better," said Paul Trevino, Jr.

For Diaz, who calls Savannah her grandpa, the goals are even higher.

"My dream is to go to the next Olympics and go to college," said Diaz.

Savannah's wife of 22 years is also there with him every day and last summer he spent over $30,000 sending to kids to boxing tournaments when their parents could not afford it.

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