- Terelle Jerricks
By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
Juanito Ibarra has been pounding the pavements in his hometown of San Pedro for weeks promoting his July 9 blues benefit concert at the Warner Grand Theatre.
He hopes the show will do better than just break even. He envisions it becoming a seed that grows in a 30,000-square- foot youth center in San Pedro that would offer mentoring, fitness classes, martial arts training and vocational trades.
Ibarra has been talking to everyone who will listen, from the council office to the Chamber of Commerce, from local businesses to ILWU Pensioners. He said promises have been made, but he’s taking a wait-and- see position to see if any of it will come to fruition.
“I was down in San Pedro hustling almost every day for months, trying to balance out this whole thing,” Ibarra said. “I’ve been taking meeting after meeting before I left on my Olympic tour as a [boxing] cutman. I’ve been on hiatus from that. That’s why I’ve been hustling again.”
A cutman is responsible for preventing and treating physical damage to a fighter between rounds of a full contact match in sports such as boxing or mixed martial arts. They typically handle swelling, nosebleeds and lacerations.
Ibarra, who once trained world champion boxer Oscar de la Hoya and mixed martial arts fighter Rampage Jackson, is a man aiming to achieve quixotic dreams with a singled-minded focus and heart. He’s reminiscent of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa when he retired after he reached the top, before he was pulled back into the ring as a trainer.
“I’m not God; I’m not a hero; I’m just a C-plus guy,” Ibarra said. “I’m better than half the world and half the world is better than me. But I’ll tell you what. I have the heart to make a positive change.”
The concert’s headliners includes Big John Atkinson, an old school multi-instrumentalist bluesman; Mighty Joe and the Prophets, the mixed bag of nuts filled with superstar blues guys in the band 2,000 Pounds of Blues.
Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers who has been around for 40 years will be performing. And, the Rock in Alabama Music Hall of Famer James Harman, will also be there.
Ibarra noted that VIP tickets, which include a meet-and- greet with the artist and special seating, have been selling quickly. He indicated that he was turning his attention to filling the remaining 1,400 seats at $25 a ticket.
“I’m just out to save lives,” Ibarra said of effort.
Ibarra’s vision is expansive. He’s looking to incorporate whatever is needed to help a child who wants the make it as a professional in basketball, football or baseball.
“I want to have indoor batting cages,” Ibarra said. “When it’s raining outside, where do kids go when they want to hit a ball?”
He’s been working with Yolanda Regalado, proprietor of Sirens Tea and Coffee to create a $500 scholarship for Port of Los Angeles High School’s graduating seniors looking to go to a trade school.
On the night of the blues concert, the first recipient of that scholarship is going to be announced. Ibarra recalled receiving a similar kind of scholarship from the San Pedro High School athletic boosters club when he played football.
“It’s a joy to get a few hundred dollars that says you were recognized,” he said. “That’s why I’m so passionate about it. It’s because I see it in San Pedro. You don’t need these knuckleheads walking around at night.”
One of his goals is for it to be staffed later in the evening when other places would be closed.
“I would like it so that a kid can’t just say, sorry coach we got into some trouble man when I was walking home and make all sorts of excuses,” Ibarra said.
“We have so much talent in this town, past, present and future, where this can be a world class community center that can change lives.”
Time: 4 p.m. July 9
Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro