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Jonny Perez warms up in the ring before suiting up to spar. (Photo by Brittany Kirstin)

Community-minded boxer seeks funding to reach national competition

on September 20, 2015

When Jonny Perez enters the boxing ring, he doesn’t enter it alone. Perez, a 21-year-old Richmond native with a troubled history, has a whole community behind him.

He spent over a year coaching other young fighters, who now are backing him as he reaches for a higher ranking.  He worked with the Safe Return Project, a group of formerly incarcerated Richmond residents who try to help others adjust to life outside prison, and has started his own subsidiary project, which he calls “Freedom Fighters.”

Now, Perez is using social media and crowd funding to raise $1,000 in time to enter a national competition at Oxnard on Sept. 28.

“For me it’s not just winning money and fighting, it’s giving hope to my people. People see me chasing for my dreams and it gives them hope,” Perez said.

He has helped many recently incarcerated people find their way to drug counselors and education programs. Perez has been lobbying for local government policies to remove constraints against felons looking for work after being released. He has been trying to convince policymakers to spend less on expanding jails and more on programs that give ex-convicts a fresh start.

With political reform on the back burner for now Perez is setting his sights on getting to Oxnard. While he’s still short on the funding for now, he’s got plenty of backers in his corner.

Perez gets a pre-round pep talk from his coach John Island. (Photo by Brittany Murphy)

Perez gets a pre-round pep talk from his coach John Island. (Photo by Brittany Kirstin)

“Jonny’s strong-willed and determined,” said John Island, Perez’s coach.

During a recent workout, the boxer let loose on the heavy bags, gearing up for a few practice rounds. His head was wrapped in a bright red bandana beneath his padded head gear. His red gloves were laced tight.

Perez pulled apart the ropes, approached his sparring partner, and with the ding of the opening bell, took one step closer to reaching his goals for himself and his community.



  1. Andy Odisio on September 21, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Please provide a link to the crowdfunding website to allow donations to Mr. Perez

  2. Jonny Perez on September 21, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    The link to my crowd funding page is

  3. Jonny Perez on September 21, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    The link to my crowd funding page —>

  4. Giorgio Cosentino on October 25, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Hey Jonny, I saw that you won your fights. Congrats! I am now down to my fighting weight, so we might have to go rounds some day! On a serious note, this week is Red Ribbon Week, the week devoted to the war on drugs. I couldn’t get the WCCUSD school board trustees to step up for this event. I asked President Todd Groves to come to my City of Hercules to speak at our city council meeting on October 27th, but no reply. We need an update on how the WCCUSD is doing with the drug problem. My City council will issue a proclamation acknowledging Red Ribbon Week, so kudos to them! I will also speak during public comment. If you have any words you want me to share about your personal war on drugs, shoot me an email. I’m asking our school district to use this week to review all drug incident data to see if the services in place are adequate for protecting our kids. We just saw some kids at Pinole Valley High school hospitalized because of a drug overdose last week. Right now, our country is in the middle of a drug epidemic with respect to prescription opiate drugs. I lost someone close to me. Many of us have. So let’s keep fighting, Jonny! Again, congrats on your winning in Oxnard!–Giorgio

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