It wasn’t always easy being one of Sergio Mora’s buddies when he was a teenager, especially if you happened to leave the house without a mouth guard.
“I literally knocked out all of my friends,” Sergio Mora chuckles, getting a kick out of memories of kicking butt.
“Google ‘Sergio Mora BBQ boxing,’” he then instructs.
What we find is a trio of grainy home videos posted on YouTube featuring a lanky Mora, all arms and legs, beating the hell out of a series of fellow young dudes in impromptu backyard fights, the action taking place on concrete in lieu of canvas.
It’s like watching a pubescent Fight Club.
“We had no headgear, we’re fighting with my friends surrounding us in a ring made of bodies,” Mora recalls. “The parents are watching us, videotaping. We were like the Mexican Little Rascals, kicking the [crap] out of each other.”
This wasn’t Mora’s first foray into boxing: His cousins in Mexico introduced him to the sport when he visited them once as a kid, breaking his nose in the process.
Still, despite looking like a natural fighter all the way back to his adolescent years, Mora never boxed in a formal setting or seriously considered participating in the sport until late in high school, when he needed credit to graduate.
“A counselor recommended an outside program where I could get PE credit if I went to a boxing gym,” Mora recalls. “So that’s what I did.”
Even then, it wasn’t love at first jab.
What really got Mora hooked on boxing wasn’t what took place inside the ring, but where the ring could take him.
“If you entered a local tournament and won, you could go to another country, another state, for free,” the Los Angeles native says, still sounding a little awed by the notion. “That’s what really sparked my interest, because I had never been past the 605 and the 17 freeways growing up. All of a sudden, you’re telling me that I can go to Argentina and Canada and Korea to represent my country? Count me in. That’s what did it for me.”
Before boxing, Mora embraced another outlet to stir his imagination: books.
“I was fascinated by reading because I never traveled,” he says. “I was reading masterpieces in classic literature as early as the fifth, sixth grade. I was reading Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and Thoreau.”
This more searching, studious side of Mora would continue to manifest itself when he did start boxing competitively.
He’s long been a thinking man’s fighter, equally athletic and analytical.
“Boxing’s a beautiful sport, man,” he says, “because you never stop learning.”
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