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DOWNTOWN DILEMMA
City Delivers TKO to BOXING 2000 Gym.

City Hall

A knockout in the final round forces gym out of Historic Plaza.

Boxing 2000 had exceeded their sales records at it's original location in the city of Orange, Ca. & acquired a new lease at a larger facility just up the street in the antiques-filled Plaza at 132 S. Glassell Street to suit their expansion.

Some merchants welcomed the possibility of additional foot traffic the gym might offer, but many worried the boxing school would become a burden to the 1914 building it was to be housed within. Loud music & the banging of feet plus hanging heavy bags being punched could disrupt neighbors. The parking shortage could worsen on the block.

After a well-connected neighbor in the Plaza complained to city officials about his concerns, the city began to ask for much stricter building specifications, which delayed renovations and the gym's completion.

Boxing 2000 owner & former Featherweight contender Mike Semaza had paid rent to both the new site and it's old location at 393 W. Chapman Ave. in preparation for a May opening. Semaza became worried he might go bankrupt.

Further delays left Semaza's 350 gym members with no formal place to practice. He was unable to bill them for their memberships and even his employees became worried about losing their jobs.

"This week I've lost nearly everything," said Semaza. "My business was peaking. We were breaking sales records. We went from being successful one minute, to being broke the next minute!" "I've provided a good youth program & no one ever recognized it," Semaza continued, although noticeably upset.

"Future criminals are becoming people that want to be a better part of the community. I'm making winners out of them and this is how the city repays me."

A tenant, whose office is directly upstairs from the proposed gym's new location, opposes the facility's opening and complained that the city has done a poor job of informing neighbors regarding details about the change.

City officials decided that Semaza didn't need a conditional use permit for his new facility because most martial arts schools have historically been allowed in commercial areas, so Semaza's workers started renovations of the site. They soon put up signs in the storefront window announcing the boxing gym's arrival to the area. All was going well.

That's when a fellow tenant in the same building, William Cathcart, a former Planning Commissioner who's married to a retired City Clerk, called the city and found out the neighbors could have appealed the gym's opening except the 15- day review period had already passed. "We should've been informed so that we can have the opportunity to appeal it," Cathcart complained. "I don't believe it's a health club or an educational club. I believe it's a competitive sports facility."

Graphic designer Luke Mysse, who works in a building next door, said somebody recently drew graffiti on his door, then ran into the boxing location. "I'm not worried about my safety, but I don't want to have to keep an eye out for people all the time," Mysse said.

After more neighbors complaints, Semaza said the city stepped up demands for specifications like fire sprinklers and handicapped restrooms, delaying the final completion of the renovation construction.

So many neighbors talked to City Council Representative Carolyn Cavecche about the opening of the boxing gym that she had the city attorney explain the approval process to the public. "I question whether it's in the right place" Councilwoman Tita Smith said during the council discussion. "An overriding concern I heard is, 'Do we have a set business plan for the area, and what are we doing to promote it?'" Dozens of Semaza's students were on hand at the meeting to lend their support to the boxing gym.

Due to the continuing dilemmas and increased complaints, Semaza was forced to accept defeat and decided to open a new location elsewhere in Orange county. In early 2005 Boxing 2000 opened its doors to an impressive 6000sq. foot gym located at 1002 E. 17th Street in Santa Ana, Ca. where they offer classes in Boxing and Kickboxing in two rings, 35 different heavy bags, licensed pro instructors, plus well-equipped weight training & much more.

Mike Semaza and his staff

BOXING 2000's Mike Semaza

Former Featherweight contender with a very impressive record of 16-wins / 1-Draw & 1-Loss.

1992: Under the expert tutelage of trainer Jackie McCoy (Five World Champs including, Carlos Palamino) 24-year-old boxer Mike Semaza was undefeated in the ring. While sparring in preparation prior to an upcoming bout he suddenly received a concussion caused by a blow to his temple, which left him out of work with accumulating medical bills. Semaza was forced to lie off from boxing for two years in order to fully recover from his injury, also causing him to be unfit and lose a lucrative cabinet-making business his family owned.

1994/1995: Planning his comeback fight after two long years away from the ring against a never Ko'd opponent; Semaza received a broken rib during training so the fight was cancelled. After allowing his injury time to heal for three months, Semaza later delivered a TKO in the first round to the same proposed fighter.

Anxious for more professional exposure, Semaza decided to leave McCoy in order to accept an "under card" bout against Bernard Mukenge at an Oscar De La Hoya fight at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Semaza won with a TKO in the 4TH round. Two weeks later Semaza won again with a 6TH round decision at the Irvine Marriott's "Battle of the Ballroom", which landed Mike an eight-fight contract with established boxing promoter, Roy Englebracht.

When new trainer Jesse Reid suddenly left to train a known World Champ, Semaza was forced to train himself for an upcoming fight with boxer Juan Carlos Rubio (6' 1" / 134 lbs.) whom he ended up fighting before an unappreciative crowd who booed and threw trash into the ring.

Soon after Semaza approached his old coach Jackie McCoy to begin training him again and was relieved when McCoy finally accepted him back. Three days prior to his next fight against Padillo, Semaza was struck by an uninsured drunk motorist while driving his car to the gym, leaving him with minor injuries. Semaza lost his first fight to Padillo.

Three days after losing to Padillo, Mike's mother fell into a coma due to complications caused by routine nasal surgery. Because of his recent loss in the ring, promoter Englebrecht called Semaza to cancel Mike's contact.

Mike Semaza persevered in 1996 with another comeback bout at The Pond in Anaheim, Ca. where he won against his able opponent then again with a KO by body shot at another Irvine Marriott contest on Halloween night.

1997: Trainer Jackie McCoy died of cancer on a Monday in January as Semaza was preparing for a big time fight at the Los Angeles Forum. Mike's mother finally passed away on Tuesday. Mike stopped his training.

Semaza got depressed and lost his interest in boxing. He got fat.

Contemplating retirement, Mike received a phone call from a trainer offering him a job as a sparring partner for boxer Johnny Tapia. Even though out-of-shape, Mike accepted the offer, which helped him to make-ends-meet for a while.

That summer Top Rank's Bob Arum offered Semaza a bout with fighter Kevin Kelly for a W.B.U. Title in Las Vegas, which Mike ended up being unable to get approved for by that particular boxing commission after some debate. He was then asked to fight in Long Beach, Ca. by promoter and trainer Benny Giogino, but pulled out last minute due to additional injuries and meeting weight issues. Semaza was left disillusioned by boxing and personally depressed.

Semaza decided to open the original Boxing 2000 Gym in Orange, Ca. in 1998 with hopes his bouts and impressive fight record could promote the gym and vice versa. As time went by, gym management began to take up all of Mike's own training time, so he decided to hang up his gloves and focus entirely on making Boxing 2000 a success.

Semaza still regrets his retirement from the boxing ring and says that never really making it to a true Title contention will always leave him with a bad taste.

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