Bully Teacher, Bully Kid

Submitted into Contest #140 in response to: Write a story inspired by a memory of yours.... view prompt


American Coming of Age High School

Bully Teacher, Bully Kid

(Based on a true story)

I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico and, yes, I’m Mexican American, born here but of Hispanic parents. But the story I’m about to tell you happened in a small town in California.  I was visiting my grandmother during the summer vacation from school.  It was 1989, I was 14 years old. 

My grandmother lived just a block away from the local high school. During the summer, the school’s gym was kept open for the town’s teens to have something to do. There was also a small swimming pool, but it cost money to go swimming there; playing in the gym was free. So, to pass the time, I played basketball in the gym during the day.

I’d either play one-on-one with another kid, or sometimes two-on two . . . whatever could be scrounged up. Usually, we played half court while the bigger kids play down at the other end. 

One day, I was playing horse with another boy about my age when he attempted a hook-shot that hit the rim low and rebounded into the other end of the court. I ran after it, but one of the big boys grabbed it and wouldn’t give it back. I grabbed it and pulled it away from him. Then he wrapped his arms around me from behind and wouldn’t let go. I was struggling to free myself while he was laughing and making cracks about my ethnicity

About then, the high school coach walked in and saw us. He didn’t know what had taken place, he just saw two boys fighting in his gym. He pulled us apart and then said, “So you want to fight, do you?” No questions of what had prompted the scuffle or anything. He continued, “Let’s do it the right way. I’ll get some boxing gloves and let you slug it out. How’s that?” The big boy just smiled and said, “OK by me!” He looked to be about 18, six-feet tall and weighing in at maybe 175. 

Now, as I said, I was 14 and rather small for my age at 5’5”, weighing 106. But I wasn’t afraid of him. I just couldn’t believe the adult here would propose such a mismatch. I said, “It doesn’t bother you that he’s got 6 or more inches on me and more than 50 pounds?”

I think the boy must have been one of the coach’s favorites, perhaps a star player on one of his teams. He seemed to grin at the boy and replied to me, “Well, you were big enough to get into a fight with him. I’m just saying let’s do it the right way.”

He was really enjoying trying to humiliate me. I was the stranger in his town. He’d show me what his boys can do if I mess with them! Probably, he expected me to cower and plead not to make me fight his star football, or basketball, or whatever player. I think he would have enjoyed either seeing me grovel to get out of the match or, dare he hope for me to accept the challenge and watch the Spic Grease Ball get a proper American ass-whoopin’?

But I didn’t back down from the bully-teacher and certainly not from the bully-kid. I just said, “OK, have it your way. Are we going to fight right here on the basketball court? What are the rules? . . . 3-minute rounds, or just go at it until someone is on the floor and not getting up, or what?”

It seemed the coach was somewhat taken aback at my response.  He mumbled, “Well, we’ll just go until somebody hollers UNCLE!” He thought I would bear any humiliation to get out of fighting the much bigger boy and might now have been worried that he could get into trouble if I got seriously hurt.   But there was something the coach didn’t know.

My name is Danny Romero, Jr. My father was a boxer in his youth and now trained amateur boxers in a boxing gym back in Albuquerque called the Hideout. I had started training under him when I was just 5 years old. By now, at age 14, I was the national champion in my weight/age division of the Silver Gloves amateur boxing league. The Albuquerque Police Athletic League sponsored the local Silver Gloves program. My father had trained me well and taught me to stand up for myself regardless of who it was or how big they were. 

I was also in great shape. My abdomen was muscled up from plenty of medicine ball thumpings, doing sit ups with my legs suspended vertically so that I had to pull my torso up parallel with the floor repeatedly, and countless shadowboxing, bag work and sparing with other kids in the gym.

I had been wearing a loose-fitting tee-shirt, so no one had seen the six-pack stomach on me. The shirt, being a bit too large for me, had also hidden my biceps which were rather well-developed for a 14-year-old. I took it off just before putting on the gloves, partly for comfort and freedom, partly for intimidation. It worked. I could see the big boy staring and perhaps wondering whether he himself really wanted this fight.

Finally, the “bout” began. As soon as the coach said, “Go,” the bully kid came at me. He telegraphed his intention as he dropped his right hand to a swinging position. He was going to put all he had into one mighty swing at my jaw. 

But I had trained myself to reflexively duck at the waist and coil to the left at the same time. His fist went wildly over my head while at the same time I uncoiled and plunged a left into his then unprotected right rib cage. He winced and pulled his right elbow down to cover his now aching side. Now, when one reflexively pulls his elbow down to protect his rib cage, unless he has arms as long as a gorilla, his gloved hand is going to be below his face. Anticipating that reaction, I had pulled back my left fist enough to use it again on his unprotected right jaw. I had practiced this variation of the “One-Two” punch over and over in training. 

Now, he’s mad! It’s dangerous to get mad when you’re boxing. You tend to do stupid things and the bully didn’t disappoint me. If there’s anything I like better than a wild right slung at me, it’s a wild left! Because then, I get to do the same counter move all over again with my stronger right hand. His left side was wide open and my right (body coiled right; head ducked) came back with a strong right in his opposite rib cage. (I think I heard a rib crack this time!). His body might have been trained and tempered for basketball, but it had not developed the muscular protection in the rib cage area. 

Predictably, I got the same reaction again. The elbow pulled down to where the pain was, which left the face open for my “Two” . . . another slam, this time into his right jaw. Now, he was slowing down and trying to recover. If this had been a sanctioned fight for a title or even ranking, I wouldn’t have let up, but I was having too much fun and didn’t want it to end too soon. 

I started jabbing and dancing around. His lunges left him open again and again, but I held back and kept jabbing into his face. Not enough to do real damage, but each successful jab was a pinprick of embarrassment for him. I don’t know which was hurting more, his ribs or his pride. 

Finally, fearful that the coach, who definitely wasn’t seeing what he expected to see, would stop the fight before I did, I waited for the best shot at his temple. It came with a roundhouse right to his defenseless left face. His legs buckled and he started dropping to the canvas . . . But wait! It wasn’t canvas! We weren’t fighting in a standard boxing ring. There was no give to this floor! I grabbed for him to cushion his fall. I was somewhat helpful in keeping him from hitting that hard maple gym floor with none of his limbs working to break the fall even instinctively. Still, he was out; out cold. No movement. I looked at the coach and remarked, “I think he said UNCLE.”  



Danny Romero (Jr.) went Pro in 1992 and knocked out Raul Hernandez in the first round at Phoenix, Arizona. In his first fight outside Phoenix, in 1993, he knocked out Alberto Cantu in three rounds at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. On April 22, 1995, he became the International Boxing Federation’s world Flyweight champion with a 12 round unanimous decision over Francisco Tejedor, at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. In 1996 Romero knocked out Colombian Harold Grey in two rounds to conquer his second world title.

           On May 23, 2003, in front of his hometown crowd he won his third world title in a unanimous decision over Trinidad Mendoza. Altogether, he captured world titles in three different weight classes, Flyweight, Bantamweight, and Super-Bantamweight. He took over the management and training at the Hideout training facility of his father in 2003 when “Pops” became ill. Today the gym gives back to the community by allowing children and teens to attend the gym for free with the realization of the Danny Romero Foundation and Danny Romero's Hideout Inc.

April 01, 2022 20:28

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Debbie Norwitz
01:43 Apr 14, 2022

I love this story, shows the grit and determination of a young Hispanic boy. Not willing to be bullied he took down a much bigger boy with his boxing expertise! Great story!


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Kara Beth Baker
21:08 Apr 13, 2022

I loved this story-I could really feel I was right there, because of your description. You told a story but put pictures in our minds. Well done.


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Tricia Shulist
21:09 Apr 09, 2022

Great story. It was great that the bullies got what was deserved. Thanks for this.


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