Young Gun Gaston Bolanos

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“You don’t want to do the prowler today,” Kirian Fitzgibbon said.

The fighters were circled around their coach. Ky Hollenbeck, Gina Carano, Kevin Ross and the youngest- Gaston Bolanos. The professional fight team of the gym.

“Can’t we vote on this,” Bolanos said.

“I’ll vote,” Ross said. “You don’t have to listen to me though.”

. “Go grab the airdyne,” the head coach replied.

Bolanos went into the other room the strength and conditioning room of Combat Sports Academy large crossfit program. He brought back the stationary bicycle and wheeled it into the center of the room. The main room of the 15,000 square foot facility contains a matted area for jiu jitsu, a pro shop for gloves, gis, and drinks, a boxing ring and a raised cage. Bolanos set the bike down, lining it up next to his rowing machine, directly in front of a heavy bag.

“Today we are doing tabatas,” Fitzgibbons told the group. “Twenty seconds on, 10 seconds off. We are switching from the airdyne to the bag. When I say switch you switch. For you Gaston, halfway through you get on the rower.”

The fighters got on their respective bikes. The round began. The 23 year old Peruvian pushed his feet hard down on the pedals turning the crank as his arms pistoned forward. The locomotive exercise broke.

“Switch. You have ten seconds,” Fitzgibbons yelled.

Bolanos stood in front of the bag. The bell rang. He began to attack. Throwing a series of combinations then crossing his left foot forward and to the right. He spun like a top and slammed an elbow into the bag.

“I’ve always been doing spinning back elbows. Since I’ve become a pro I’ve been doing them more and been slicker doing them. It’s more safe to throw them. Now that there’s no elbow pads I can throw them with a little more damage as well,” Bolanos said later. The damage has been clear in his first few fights. In his third bout against Caleb Archer, Bolanos slammed a spinning back elbow into Archer staggering him to the ground causing the referee to call the fight in Bolanos’ favor.

Gaston Bolanos and Ky Hollenbeck spar

Despite the win Bolanos hasn’t been taking it easy. “I’ve always had tough fights. Those few fights as a professional were difficult but I feel like I’ve been getting better with each fight,” he said and now that he’s a professional he has had to train even harder. “I train three times as hard as an amateur. You have to take it more seriously as a pro. Even though I have a job, fighting always comes first.”

And the competition is getting harder for the young South American which is evidenced in his upcoming match against Ben Yelle at Lion Fight 24 at the Foxwoods Casino in Conneticut. The promotion has pitted the 4-0 Bolanos against a seasoned 142lb fighter out of Marquette Michigan who has a record of 23-17 and one draw. Yelle has stepped into the ring with Malapet Sasiprapra, Matt Embree, and Jose Palacios amongst others. While he most recently dropped a decision to Sasiprapra, Yelle performed well and looks to be a tough opponent for Bolanos.

Gaston Bolanos and Ben Yelle weigh in at Lion Fight 24

While Yelle has a substantial record Bolanos started at the young age of 10 in Lima Peru at F-14, a gym named in honor of Alex Gong, former Fairtex fighter and owner.

“My father went to the gym and I decided to try it out. It became an everyday routine for me. As a kid I was very angry. Muay Thai was a get away for me. It calmed me down and didn’t make me as angry. I used to get into fights.”

Bolanos immigrated to the states and joined Fairtex in Mountain View. It was there that he met Kirian Fitzgibbons. He went on to follow Fitzgibbons to CSA after training with him for IFMA. The coach not only served as a trainer to Bolanos but was a legal guardian for a period of time so that Bolanos could finish high school while continuing to  train.

The 142lb Peruvian does more than train for fights, he reaches beyond them, he has goals… a lot of goals “not only in Muay Thai but as a professional fighter. I want to be a Muay Thai world champion. I also want to transition into MMA as I want to show real Muay Thai to the MMA world but my main goal is to get better every day.”

When asked why he wanted to make the transition from Muay Thai to MMA he replied economically, “In order to make a living as a fighter I’ll need to transition, especially in order to make some real money off fighting.”

gaston 3

The conditioning session came to an end. The team sighed in collective relief. The congenial team atmosphere was obvious, something built overtime. “We haven’t had the same team atmosphere in the past. We all ended up in at CSA and Kirian has played a big role. Ky commutes from San Francisco, Diego moved up from Mexico, Eddie commutes from Vallejos, Zoila lives around here and so do I… It’s a lot more than… it’s a brotherhood. It’s a family. If Eddie fights we all walk out together. If Kevin walks out we all walk out together…”

Tbe team put their equipment away. Bolanos would go back later in the evening for more work, to hit the pads, to spar, to clinch. To grind one step closer to his fight.

Bolanos fights tonight September 25th at Foxwoods casino in Connecticut as part of Lion Fight 24. The fights will be aired on television on AXS TV at 9pm ET.

Lion Fight 24 promotion

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About Author

Born in upstate New York Matt Lucas moved to California in 2004. He eventually settled in the Bay Area and began training at Pacific Ring Sports under Mike Regnier and Ganyao Arunleung where he stayed until 2015. He currently lives in Bangkok, Thailand and recently published his first novel, The Boxer’s Soliloquy.

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