Jacob 'Stitch' Duran helps open Planada Boxing Gym

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- He just wrapped shooting the latest 'Rocky' movie, and Friday night a local boxing celebrity hit the ring in the North Valley in an effort to keep at-risk kids off the streets.

If you don't know him you've probably seen Jacob 'Stitch' Duran outside the octagon during UFC fights, or ringside in several 'Rocky' movies. He's a real life cutman -- his job is to prevent and treat injuries during boxing and MMA fights. Friday, he said he's helping provide a future for kids in his hometown.

'Stitch' Duran arrived with full celebrity status at Cesar Chavez Middle School in Planada -- signing autographs and taking pictures. This ringside tough guy became emotional as he explained what a privilege it is for him to help raise more than $10-thousand to open the Planada Boxing Club.

"So I know that, you know, a boxing program such as this can only do good things for kids. When I had my school for kickboxing our motto was 'we'll show you how to fight so you don't have to,'" said Jacob 'Stitch' Duran, celebrity cutman.

The club is the brainchild of the Merced Sheriff's Activity League. The Planada gym will be the fourth boxing gym they've established.

Duran skipped out on a major job to be in his hometown to help Friday night. "When the UFC called me to do a show in Brazil I told them 'sorry, I'm booked,'"

The Sheriff's Activity League, along with several generous sponsors, already have equipment needed to get the gym set up. Local schools have also stepped up to help -- especially with hosting and organizing this major fundraiser. "They see the big picture. To provide such an enriching opportunity to the kids has really mobilized everyone to jump in," said Gonzalez.

The new gym will give kids an opportunity to grow and develop as athletes, rather than get in trouble on the streets. "It not only develops your physical form, but a mental form, you want to teach the kids that every time they fall, whether it's in the ring or in society they can always get back up," said Lucy Lopez, Planada Boxing Gym coach.

Meeting their fundraising goal before the event even began, each dollar earned from the silent auction is a big bonus. Duran has been in big movies like Rocky VI, and he just wrapped shooting on Rocky 7 "Creed."
A glove signed by the cast, including Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone, was going for more than $500 dollars.

The Planada Boxing Gym will open the first week of May and have classes three days a week. It will be housed at Planada Elementary.

Cutman 'Stitch' Duran promised he will be back to help in any way he can to make sure the program succeeds, and he'll bring some of his celebrity friends with him.
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