Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Friends and Neighbors: Ed Avila


November 2, 2017

Boxing has been a part of Ed Avila's life since he first put on a pair of gloves at four years old.

In 1958, at his grandmother's house, Ed received his first pair of boxing gloves and ten years later he saw his first Golden Gloves match.

"Boxing was a big part of the family because my grandmother, being a tough German gal, liked the boxing biz," he said.

As a high school student he began boxing, using elephant hide, horse hair gloves that he still has today, and though he did not box much, his love of the sport never waned.

Born and raised in Kimball, Ed left for college soon after graduating from Kimball County High School, but in 1978 he returned from ASU and the kids in the local boxing club began recruiting him.

In an earlier interview, Ed said that several kids were calling him coach before he even knew about the job.

Their persistence paid off, and Ed became a coach for the Kimball Boxing Club.

"We had a calling for kids interested in boxing and we filled up the 4-H building. I think we had over 90 kids show up. Times have changed so much. In the early 80s we didn't have soccer, federation wrestling or other things we have now and the kids didn't have electronic devices," he said. "It shocked me. I had no idea what I was doing. I had never coached and knew very little about boxing in general. But, I thought, well if there are this many kids interested, I need to try to help fill that void."

At the time his dad, T.C. Avila, had an oilfield business and they were able to work around his schedule to allow him the time he needed to commit to the kids.

"The company was a big sponsor for us, making sure we were able to make this happen," he added.

Practices during that time were held first at the 4-H building, then the West Elementary School and finally in the T.C Avila Roustabout building. The Kimball Boxing Club was rejuvenated and by 1981 the club already boasted five national champions, several state, district and regional champions.

"What a talented pool of athletes we had in Kimball. It was incredible," Ed said. "We traveled around town (practicing) and through the course of time we established one of the premier boxing clubs in the state of Nebraska and in the tri-state area, actually."

from his family, friends and fellow coaches in addition to the support of the entire community.

"The town was so supportive throughout the years, it was amazing," Ed said. "I appreciated all the volunteers that helped throughout the years. The success of our program depended on it!"

The Kimball Boxing Club was involved in several youth boxing programs throughout the nation, including Silver Gloves, Golden Gloves, AAU, PAL Tournaments and USA Boxing.

In 1981 Jerry Gorsuch became the clubs first national champion, that same year Ed took three boxers who had qualified for the national Junior Olympics to Colorado Springs.

"That was kind of fun," he said. "To have boxers boxing on that level was pretty cool. We met Mike Tyson. It was our first real exposure to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs."

He was coaching at the Olympic Training Center when the monument at the top of Pikes Peak was unveiled. Ed took Wes and Les Dunn and Chris and Jerry Gorsuch to the ceremony. Throughout his coaching career Ed worked in rings from Kimball to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and from Lake Placid New York to rings throughout Mexico Scandinavia.

Many of the kids in the boxing club became extended family to Ed.

"Kathy was a huge part of my boxing experience and was a surrogate mother to a lot of these kids, she was an inspiration to them," he said. "My focus was preparing them to be good citizens as much as successful athletes. I always looked at my challenge as being a mentor that would have an impact on their lives. That meant a lot to me."

As the sport began to show signs of slowing down for local athletes, it was really just getting started for Ed and his family.

Ben Nadorf, owner of Everlast, hired Ed and Kathy as marketing consultants for his company. The Avilas were able to meet Muhammad Ali while attended the sports writers banquet with Nadorf.

"That was just one of the many cool things we got to do while we were involved with boxing," Avila said.

In 1988 Ed, along with his wife Kathy, became the regional representatives for Tuf-Wear's new mail order branch, All Sports, and opened a warehouse in the family's roustabout headquarters in Kimball.

"The various boxers served as models for different boxing products," Ed said. "That was kind of fun."

In 1995 Ed became the chief inspector for the State Athletic Commission and continued in that capacity for 14 years.

Throughout that time Ed officiated over several televised HBO boxing events and played a role in building the Colorado Boxing Commission. He also assisted with Mixed Martial Arts for which he worked a televised world championship bout in Omaha.

"Those are the kind of thrilling things that I was able to participate in during my involvement with the state athletic commission," Ed said.

Though he can easily recall many great moments, the most touching memory for Ed was hearing a Kimball quartet comprised of Sherri Nelson, Kelly Young, Matt Shoup and his son, Brett Avila sing the National Anthem at Cougar Palace just prior to a professional event.

"That was the highlight of my career," he said. "They had a crowd of 2,500 on their feet. It was the finest rendition of the National Anthem I had ever heard. I look back and out of all these things, that moment stands out in my mind."


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