Peter Villegas was named the new chairman of the California State Athletic Commission on Tuesday.

Villegas had been the vice chairman of the CSAC since March 1, 2021 and is succeeding John Carvelli, who had been Chairman since 2013. Carvelli served the maximum eight-year term and will remain a resource to the CSAC on an as needed basis. The Chairman role is a volunteer and non-paid position within the CSAC.

Villegas is a passionate combat sports enthusiast who’s also involved in boxing through his role as one of the Board of Directors for the Muhammad Ali Center, a position he was appointed to in February. The international cultural center was founded by Ali and wife Lonnie in 2005 and is based in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Being in the role of vice chair for the CSAC was a tremendous experience for me,” Villegas told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “To see all of the focus, attention, and commitment to excellence that this commission has established with referees, judges, inspectors, and timekeepers has been extremely impressive. The average fan doesn't see all of that, but I've been lucky to see it and understand it.

“I want to continue to keep the CSAC a well-run machine and provide the proper oversight so that Andy and the staff can continue to do the tremendous job that they do and maintain their No. 1 role in the country. I want to make sure I do my part to keep that status. I also want to engage the other commissioners so that we get as much value out of them as possible.”

CSAC executive director Andy Foster said it's a natural progression that the vice chair eventually becomes the chair, much like Villegas has. 

“The chair has a very unique role in formulating policies for the athletic commission. The chair is the only person who can approve what the commission is going to discuss on the agenda and vote upon any action items,” Foster told BoxingScene.com. “The chair controls what's going to get voted on and what's not going to get voted on. It's similar to essentially being like the speaker or the leader of the Senate.”

Villegas resides in Rancho Cucamonga, California and is also a secretary of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and board member of the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute and the National Association of Latino Appointed & Elected Officials.

His career posts have included serving as the co-chair of the public affairs lobbying firm Actum, his current full-time position. Previously, Villegas served as vice president and head of Latin affairs at The Coca-Cola Company and the vice president of the office of corporate responsibility at JP Morgan Chase.

Villegas’ father is from Sonora, Mexico and he grew up the youngest of seven boys in Victorville, Calif. He said he will also use his new platforms with CSAC and Ali Center to better promote boxing.

“I didn't go to college and the champ [Ali] provided me with the confidence and heart to succeed in life – I even named my daughter after Ali,” said Villegas. “I want to give back and help promote the programs they offer across the board. Just like he served us, I want to serve others.”

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.