By Michael Woods
The Gabriel 'Tito' Bracero story is one that is movie worthy.
Kid is a bit of a wild child, runs with the wrong crowd, but boxing is there to rein in him in. But the streets win out, for a spell, kid gets collared, does time.
Five years, Bracero did. He came of age in a time when Brooklyn was still Brooklyn, gentrification hadn’t been in effect, and there were more turf wars for teenage toughs.
He was released in 2008. Bracero came back into the free world and looked to boxing to be his support system, that place for him where everything basically made sense. Outside the ring, it’s harder. Heck, for most of of it is, getting older doesn’t always mean it gets easier, that you get wiser and everything falls into place.
Day to day life can still be that struggle; and so it was when Bracero was detained in February 2017, after authorities looked to corral him after a domestic incident involving his estranged wife. He was snagged, and a court case has played out since then, now resulting in a resolution.
The Brooklyn born boxer, who holds a 25-3-1 record, and just fought and won on July 28, will be going away and serving eight to nine months of time starting Aug. 20.
The fighter, who has been promoted by Lou DiBella for several years, and has been advised by living legend Tommy Gallagher, is 37 years old.
He impressed watchers mightily in handling Artemio Reyes on ESPN, on a Top Rank show, and seems upbeat about his current situation. Bracero is looking to make the time work for him, rather than having the time do a job on him.
He’s thinking it possible that he will be able to get a work release program, get released from custody in the AM, do work in a local boxing gym, and get some training time at night. He’d stay in shape, help teach kids and adults that boxing is a smart route to staying on the right path. “I can stay in shape,” he said, and then turn himself in at night, back at a facility.
If things go smoothly, he would go in, do the time, and possibly, he’s been informed, snag a shot right out of the facility, maybe a world title scrap at 140 pounds. Yes, that would indeed be solid addition to the script, wouldn’t it?
Bracero informs me that the charges, resisting arrest and aggravated assault on a cop, came about because he had a hard time dealing with the dissolution of his marriage. 18 years he’d been with her, and not seeing his kids, he told me, had him off kilter.
“That was somewhere emotionally I’d never been,” he said.
But, he said, he’s been dealing with the legal system, the courts, for a spell now, and will be graced with time served, so a 12 month stint will be lessened.
He will be housed at North Hampton County Prison, in Easton, PA., and, he believes, will be eligible for work release after one month. The Sunset Park, Brooklyn native will be able to train at a gym in Bethlehem, PA., and he expressed excitement in that he will be able to speak to local kids, some of whom are having a hard time in life, and will be able to counsel them on the right choices to make.
“We will talk about controlling emotions, having discipline, controlling your anger,” Bracero told me.
Who knows, maybe he could get furlough time, on a weekend, and if officials allowed it, have a fight on Saturday night, and then come back to the facility for Monday. And things could well play out that he finishes his stint, and gets a meaningful bout, maybe a title shot, right out of the incarceration stint. Stranger things have happened, and do on a daily basis.
“I’ve been a beast in the gym, because I realize, I’m 37, this year had to be it. I can use this time to help motivate people, speak to the kids, and use the time to benefit myself, but more so, talk to those kids who are struggling,” Bracero said. “I want to raise the bar!”
Please feel free to listen to Woods' podcast, "Talkbox."