By: Sean Crose
“It’s a little bit different,” lightweight Mercito Gesta says over the phone, “but I try to make the most out of it.” Like most everyone, Gesta is trying his best to survive the COVID-19 era with his physical and emotional well being in tact. Being a professional athlete, the California based fighter is trying hard to stay ring ready. “If I do my workout, I just do it in a parking lot,” he says. “We do a video call training…it works out. You can do a lot of stuff.”
One of the things Gesta has been doing lately isn’t ring related. For Gesta, his wife, and those close to him have been donating food to workers on the front lines of the pandemic. “I think it’s the best thing I can do,” Gesta says of the charitable endeavor he’s taking part in. “I’m just hoping for us doing this, it will encourage other people to do the same thing” According to Gesta, the food can go to “anyone whose a first responder.” And, as anyone who knows a first responder or other front line worker can attest, these have been particularly challenging – as well as quite risky – times for those in their professions.
Boxing, which is paradoxically the humblest and flashiest of sports, has a long history of charitable giving. Muhammad Ali was known for investing in all kinds of causes – including one impromptu act of heroism where he literally talked a man down from killing himself. Floyd Mayweather has given lots to charity. Manny Pacquiao is said to give untold sums to the needy. Even those figures who haven’t earned celebrity status in the fight game are known to do their part.
Popular former boxer turned championship level trainer John Scully, for instance, gives enormous amounts of time, effort and money to aid former boxers in need. In a very real sense, then, Gesta is taking part in a long standing boxing tradition.
Not that what he does is easy. It certainly isn’t as easy as sitting around his home all day surfing the internet in between training sessions (“I should always be ready,” he says, for the inevitable return to the ring). Still, Gesta feels he and those with him are doing their part to help those who have truly stepped up during a dire time. “I feel they’re fighters, too,” he says of the people he’s serving. He’s right, of course. He’s also worthy of credit in his own right, as are those who take part in this effort with him. Boxing can tell a lot of unsettling stories. The promising stories deserve notice of their own.