Boxing championship dreams can start in a swimming pool too.
It was in a ring located in the shallow end of an empty pool at the former Memorial Park aquatics center where Sierra High School graduates Izaak Cardona and Chris Galvadon learned their sport in the city park and recreation's amateur boxing program.
From humble beginnings, they hope to reach boxing's pinnacle. The next stop in their journey is Saturday's Colorado Springs Throwdown at the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center, 3650 N. Nevada Ave.
Cardona (6-0, six KOs) faces 41-year-old Katrell Strauss (3-4) of Denver in a super middleweight fight in the main event while Galvadon (2-0, one KO) meets 19-year-old Brandon Salazar (1-3) of Albuquerque in a super featherweight bout.
Both Sierra graduates have fought about 100 amateur bouts each through the local One Springs Youth Boxing Club. They have high expectations that are loftier than collecting some extra money.
"I have a way to go but hopefully if I keep working hard I can get on TV, get noticed and hopefully get a title shot," said Galvadon, a 2010 Sierra graduate who lays carpets for a living. The 22-year-old enjoyed success at the national and regional Golden Gloves level and entered the pros with an 88-16 amateur record.
In March 2012, Cardona, 22, missed out on qualifying for the U.S. Olympic trials with a semifinals loss at the USA Boxing national championships at Fort Carson.
Both boxers have fought in Denver and Pueblo with Galvadon starting his pro career in December. Cardona made his debut in May 2013 and has recorded six KOs in only 15 rounds.
"I came really close to the Olympic trials," said Cardona, a 2009 Sierra graduate, and full-time pro fighter. "We decided it was time to turn pro last year and it's gone well. I love to fight and I am still young."
Both have a good chance at successful pro careers, said longtime coach Manny Martinez.
"They both have that love and dedication for the sport you need," he said.
Event promoter and coach Carlos Galvadon, the boxer's father, said 600 tickets are sold already with 200 or more expected at the door.
"We wanted this to be a real competitive event with a lot of boxers who are up and coming," Martinez added.
For both boxers, the effort is worth it in a sport they have loved since Cardona was 8 and Galvadon 11. They dreamed of title belts then. They still do.
"I will get noticed pretty soon," Cardona said. "I have the potential to be a world champion. I just need to keep working hard and training hard and everything will move on from there."