Sometimes in life we wait too long to honor those whom have passed before us. Such is not the case when it comes to the Peña family. With the recent passing of boxing legend and founder of Peña’s Davenport Boxing Club, Alvino Peña, he may be gone, but his family has made sure that his legacy will live on. Three specific members of the Peña family, grandsons, Nile and Matt and Alvino’s son Pat have literally followed in his footsteps hoping to keep the Peña name going. All three are representing Peña’s Boxing Club in different states; Pat, at the original Peña’s Davenport Boxing Club in Iowa, Nile at Peña Boxing Club Moline in Illinois and Matt at the South Salt Lake Police Athletics/Activities League (PAL) Pete Sauzo Boxing Gym in Utah.
Matt has been a trainer for almost twenty years now and is also one of the UFC’s most well-known striking coaches, recently having been seen in the corner of #1 welterweight contender Robbie Lawler at UFC 171. He often sees his grandfather’s style come out in him more as he has gotten older. “When I was young, I didn’t understand my grandfather’s methods,” said Peña. “But, after I got a little older, I see him come out more in me and I understand why and how he motivated so many fighters for such a long period of time.” Being involved with the PAL program in Salt Lake City, UT, Matt is completely dedicated to helping the youth of his community similar to his grandfather. “My mindset now is just giving back truly the way that I thought my grandfather would have given back.”
Pat, who originally was only going to take over the Davenport club for two weeks when his father was injured and couldn’t be at the club, is now four years into being the owner and head coach and plans to keep it open as long as he can. “My plan is to get the club back to where it was in the old days.” said Peña. Running the original club where the Peña name was born in the Quad Cities could have added some extra pressure to Pat, but after seeing the outpouring of support from the community over the past few weeks, he is ready to represent the Peña Boxing Club name even more now in honor of his dad. “Growing up around him, I didn’t know exactly what he was doing,” said Peña. “But after hearing everyone tell stories about him and honor him this past week, I finally understood just how important he was.”
Nile, who also got his start at the Davenport Boxing Club, but eventually opened Nile Peña Boxing in Moline, recalls how influential his grandfather was to him and his career as a coach. “It almost put everything into perspective of what I am doing and why I am doing it.” said Peña. So much so, that this past week, he changed the name of his club from Nile Peña Boxing to Peña Boxing Club Moline. “I wanted to pay and honor and tribute to my grandfather and I felt like it was the right thing to do.”
As all the stories and memories of Alvino will continue on in the days to come, Pat, Matt and Nile are proving that the Peña name that Alvino so strongly built up in the Quad Cities and all over the nation isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. “There is never going to be another Alvino Peña,” said Nile. “But I want to continue on the legacy like Pat and Matt. He was a great man and a hero to many and if I can do a fraction of the things that he accomplished in his life, not just in boxing but overall, I feel like I will do greats things.”