During the Vietnam War Alley Cats was the name of a helicopter gunship platoon. Fast forward to today and it is the name of a Moline boxing club that was founded by Jeff Perez, a retired Vietnam vet who served in the Alley Cat platoon.
For the past 20 years Coach Perez has been teaching boxers not only the sweet science but how to be an asset to society. “It makes me happy to see these kids going to school, staying out of trouble and making something with their lives,” said Coach Perez. He is proud to say three of his fighters are now police officers and one is a lawyer. Not only does the club keep kids off the street but it also keeps him on the straight and narrow. “The kids are a great help to me and they keep me busy.”
Coach Perez is currently operating Alley Cats boxing club out of his garage with assistant coach Jesus Alonso. With limited space in the garage, Jeff takes his fighters to Ramsey’s gym in Rock Island, IL. Soon that will change since they found a space big enough for a boxing ring just up the street from their current location. Perez and Alonso train amateurs, pros and even MMA fighters proper “striking” technique.
Alley Cats Boxing Club is also the training home of many local professional boxers the likes of Gilbert Venegas Sr., Gilbert Venegas Jr. and Limberth Ponce.
One of Alley Cats’ amateurs is making a name for himself after just two years of being in the sport. Twelve year old Eduardo “Lalo” Ramos started boxing when his older brother Juan brought him and their other brother Eric to Coach Perez’s garage.
Lalo is currently ranked 4th in the nation in the 80 lb weight class. In his first year Lalo took 8th in the Silver Gloves tournament and last year he landed 4th place in the same. He won a state title in Indiana (Illinois disbanded their tournament) this year and took second in regionals in Lima, Ohio. You wouldn’t expect to hear these achievements coming from a quiet, respectful fighter in such a short amount of time.
When asked what is his main goal in boxing Lalo said “to be a World Champion” like his favorite fighters Floyd Mayweather and Danny Garcia. That’s a real possibility considering all the hard work he is putting in at Alley Cats.
Lalo Ramos has an amateur championship fight in Harvey, IL scheduled in July.
Top picture by Phil Cunningham
Side picture by Jose Murillo