Posted // 2013-05-28 -
There are a ton of youth programs that are engaging and encourage kids to get out of the house and participate in something awesome. The trick is finding the right one. Of course, there are plenty to choose from with skateboarding, hiking, biking and various sport-oriented centers, but there are the occasional kids who want something a little more competitive and, in turn, want to take on a sport where they can better themselves through direct combat.
All Heart Boxing Foundation is a nonprofit corporation based out of Foley's Mix Martial Arts Gym in Ogden. The program teaches MMA, amateur boxing, martial arts and other disciplines while giving kids guidance in areas such as honor, respect, fair play, self worth and an array of other life-building skills -- all under the trained hands of some of Utah's best coaches and trainers in a facility that's produced many independent-circuit and national fighters. Today, I chat with AHBF founder Andrea Storey about starting up the program and the work it's done for for the community. (All pictures courtesy of AHBF.)
Andrea Storey (left) Monica DeCarlo (right)
Gavin: Hey, Andrea. First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Andrea: I am from Liberty Utah. I am married to Scott Storey and we have five children. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the last 25 years so I am really boring. Sorry.
Gavin: What first got you interested in boxing and other combat sports?
Andrea: I have always loved the sport of boxing. Some of my earliest memories are of watching Muhammad Ali with my dad. I believe that boxing is an art. When you have two opponents who are technical and gifted, it is beautiful to watch. I have always enjoyed watching MMA. I have become a real fan after getting to know the pros and learning all they must do to prepare for a fight.
Gavin: Did you ever compete yourself, or were you more of an observer of the sport?
Andrea: I have never competed in the sport. I LOVE observing it. It is hard to describe how I feel when I watch my son step into the ring. I am so proud to be a part of this sport.
Gavin: How did you get involved with the training side of things?
Andrea: I am not involved with the training; I leave that up to the experts. We are lucky to have so many great trainers in Utah. They are all so willing to pass on their knowledge to help the next generation of fighters become great. I was at the Junior Olympic Tournament this past weekend. This tournament decided who will represent Utah at the Regional Tournament in Colorado in a few weekends. I was thrilled to see the talented boys who will be moving on. Utah is well represented.
Gavin: Where did the idea come about to start up All Heart Boxing?
Andrea: When I started my boys at Foley’s, I was so happy with the results. They gained self-confidence, coordination and had fun while they got a good work out. It changed our lives for the better. In the two and a half years I have been there, I have seen a lot of kids start up and love it, but because of the cost of the sport, they aren’t able to pursue as much as they want to, and it breaks my heart. I want those kids to have the same opportunities that my boys do. I believe in this sport. When you are at the right gym and with the right coach, it can make a huge difference in these kids’ lives.
Gavin: Who was involved with the initial planning, and what made you decide to make it a nonprofit corporation?
Andrea: Sahna and Dave Foley, along with Monica and Jason DeCarlo, have been there from the start. Dave and Jason have incredible knowledge of the sport and have put countless hours into getting All Heart started. Their networking and contacts have been critical to our cause; there would be no way I could ever do this without them. Sahna and Monica have been brilliant; they’ve always been there, keeping things running smoothly. They are my source of strength and have taught me so much. I am a better person for meeting these women. I owe them everything. My loving and supportive husband, Scott, backed us financially and I appreciate all he has done for our cause. Dave and Sahna have been very gracious to let us use Foley’s Mixed Martial Arts Training Center for fundraisers and other events. We are extremely grateful to them. It has always been our intention to be nonprofit. The sport has been good to all of us and we want to give all we can back.
Andrea: I did my research before deciding what gym I wanted to start my boys. Dave Foley is a legend in the fighting community in Utah. Living so close to his gym, it seemed like a perfect fit.
Gavin: What was it like getting up off the ground to start and building the organization?
Andrea: I wanted a foundation with diverse background and knowledge of the boxing sport. I thought of who would be assets to the foundation and came up with five great people who have been critical in the start of the foundation. There has been a lot of time and effort putting this foundation together -- research, legality and hard work. All six of us have dedicated our time and money getting started to help the kids of our community through the great sport of boxing. What All Heart Boxing Foundation is about is helping kids who can’t afford to participate in boxing, martial arts and mixed martial arts get scholarships to gyms. Our goal is to involve as many gyms and dojos as possible. We train out of Foley’s MMA but are not limited to that gym. Any gym or dojo can join with us to help as many kids as possible.
Gavin: Who are some of the trainers involved with the program, and what do they contribute?
Andrea: All Heart Boxing has no specific trainers, but there are some great coaches in the state of Utah, such as Dave Foley, Valente Tijanero, Rick Montoya, Colby Rogers, Adam Gonzalez, Mel Rogers, Gary Gomez, Matt Pena, coaches from Louie’s Gym, all of the Fulmer family and so many that I missed. All of these coaches sacrifice their time and money to help kids be part of something positive in their lives and give them something to look forward in life with hard work and dedication.
Gavin: Since you've started, what kind of response have you seen from the community and those who join?
Andrea: We have seen great response from our community and local business. We noticed that when it comes down to helping kids and keeping them off the streets, local pro athletes and local business are willing to help. These are some of our local pro athletes who have helped with fund raising and networking our organization: Francisco Alcantara, Adam Butcher, Justin Roberts, Shawn Conroy, Craig Mock, Jon Neil, Dave Foley, and Valente Tijanero and many others. Some local business supporters are: Tom Clark from Garage Door Utah, Isaiah Salazar from Total Mayhem Promotions, as well as Doug Gibson from the Standard Examiner.
Gavin: Are you looking at getting your own facility down the road, or are you good where you're at for now?
Andrea: At this point, getting our own facility is not talked about; our main goal at this time is trying to sponsor as many kids as possible.
Gavin: What is the overall goal you hope to achieve with All Heart, and what kind of an impact do you want to have on the sports you teach, as well as the community at large?
Andrea: Our goal is that eventually every child who wants to participate in boxing, martial arts and mixed martial arts will have the opportunity to do so in the state of Utah. I believe in these sports and that our children can benefit from them. The self-discipline and respect that are learned from participating will only help make our community stronger.
Gavin: What's your take on the local MMA and boxing circuits, both good and bad?
Andrea: Locally, we have great networking through MMA sport since right now it is a very popular sport. However, young kids cannot participate competitive in the MMA sport. USA boxing provides a start-up for young athletes who want to compete and someday become future Golden Gloves champions or Olympic gold medalists. For the negative, I think it is just the stereotype that some try to attribute to the sport. Recently, Farmington City Manager Dave Millheim referred to an MMA event as “rednecks, alcohol and a chain-link fence.” In my experience, this is not at all true. These fighters are true athletes. They are great husbands and fathers and I respect them very much. Many of them have represented All Heart without compensation. We are honored to have great fighters like Adam Butcher, Justin Roberts, Cisco Alcantara, John Neil, Lucas Montoya, Valente Tijanero and Disco Dave Foley represent All Heart Boxing Foundation. Isaiah Salazar has also been a huge supporter of All Heart.
Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it more prominent?
Andrea: We believe we can have more involvement from our community to support our local shows and local athletes.
Gavin: For anyone looking to get into any of these sports, what do you recommend they do?
Andrea: For any youth who is interested we would advise find a local gym and coach that fits their needs and plan on hard work dedication, blood, sweat and tears, because you don’t play boxing.
Gavin: Who are some fighters you believe we should be keeping an eye on as far as going national?
Andrea: We have a great range of potential candidates who can someday go national. We have Preston Tiffany from Foley’s -- you see him at all the fights, and this year he reached his goal of 20 amateur fights at just 9 years old; Santana DeCarlo and Mack Storey will both be representing Utah at Junior Olympics in Colorado in a few weeks; Yayir Estrada, Bladimir Estrada, and Francisco Lopez training out of City Center are always exciting fighters to watch; Diego and Marco Alvarez from Marshall White Center are a double-threat; Larry Gomez from K.O Boxing has a pro style that is promising to see at a national level; and the three Chairez brothers out of Mui Tai institute are tough and fun fighters to watch. There are many I’m sure I left out, but we have a wide range of fighters in Utah from 8 years old to adults who compete on a regular basis. Utah this year, had Larry Gomez, Danny Galloway, Jesse West, and Francisco Lopez, who competed at the National Golden Gloves Tournament at the Salt Palace.
Gavin: What can we expect from both yourself and All Heart over the rest of the year?
Andrea: All Hear Boxing is planning on putting on our second show on Oct. 18, 2013; we are planning on having some of our local amateur fighters, as well as out of state to bring in a larger crowd. We will also be at the local MMA shows. All donations go to sponsor the kids.
Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?