Jordan Herrera, 8, spars with his dad LAPD Deputy Police Chief Jason Wardlow Herrera and helps him train for his charity boxing match coming up March 18 in Albuquerque. Courtesy photo
By CAROL A. CLARK
Los Alamos Daily Post
Perfectly willing to take it on the chin to help underprivileged kids, Los Alamos Deputy Police Chief Jason Wardlow Herrera and Firefighter Kenny Martinez are preparing for battle – just not with each other.
The two men are in different weight classes so will fight others at the Rumble in Rio charity event March 18 at the Albuquerque Convention Center. Each will fight three one-minute rounds unless someone gets knocked out.
Wardlow Herrera, 38, is a heavyweight and will box in the main event against a Santa Fe Firefighter. When Benito Aragon of the Albuquerque Police Department asked him to participate, he talked it over with his son Jordan, 8, who attends Pinon Elementary School.
“Jordan was really excited about it and has been pushing me hard to get in shape,” Wardlow Herrera said. “He doesn’t let me drink coke and is making sure I’m eating right and he spars with me.”
With LAPD for 10 years, Wardlow Herrera has served as deputy chief since November 2014. He is athletic director of the Los Alamos Football League and involved in a number of other local youth oriented sports.
“I grew up in Texas and am familiar with kids who don’t have a lot and I want to do what I can to help underprivileged kids here in this area,” he said. “Rumble in Rio really is a worthy cause so I want to invite the community to come out, whether to support the cops or the firefighters, it will mean a lot to the kids to have an enthusiastic crowd.”
Martinez has been a firefighter with LAFD for five years and works the B Shift at Fire Station 4 near the golf course. He is fighting an Albuquerque cop.
“I am happy to do this because it’s competitive and it’s for a good cause … it’s also something exciting and fun for our whole family and friends and not just for me – it reaches everybody,” Martinez said.
This is the second fight for both Wardlow Herrera and Martinez. Wardlow Herrera won his first fight with a knockout and Martinez won his first fight with a technical knockout.
“Both of us being from Los Alamos is something unique and I think it would be great if the community would come out and show support for the fire department and police department and help us help the kids,” Martinez said.
The Rumble in Rio is in its 12th year in the state of New Mexico. It was inspired by Jim Franklin, who was an evidence technician in the Rio Rancho Police Department. For several years he would take old bicycles from storage and rebuild them and give them out to children of low-income families in the area for Christmas.
This effort prompted Ofc. Pete Camacho to create “Rumble in Rio,” and allowed the Jim Franklin Bike Giveaway Program to expand and provide more bicycles to more kids. So began the tradition of “Cops and Firefighters fighting for the kids”.
“The Rumble in Rio Board now includes members from multiple public safety agencies from New Mexico,” said Andrew Garcia of Rumble in Rio. “Our fighters are EMTs, police officers, corrections officers and firefighters from around the state and have represented dozens of departments.”
Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone and Fire Chief Troy Hughes will be ringside cheering on their fighters at the big event.
“I think it is great Jason is representing law enforcement for such a worthy cause,” Sgambellone said. “I look forward to watching the fight.”
Hughes said he is proud of Martinez and Wardlow Herrera for being willing to put in the effort to train and prepare for their fights.
“We get tested at least three times a year for physical fitness and really getting in shape for this charity event is just an extension of what we try to do to stay fit,” Hughes said. “In doing this, Kenny and Jason represent what it means to be a good employee, a good community member and a good role model helping the underprivileged … we’re very proud of them both.”
Rumble in Rio will kick off the evening with eight amateur “guns and hoses” bouts between New Mexico police and firefighters. The professional portion of the card features top prospects from the area, including flyweight Matthew Griego (6-0, 6KO), welterweight Brian Mendoza (14-0, 9KO), and super featherweight Alex Holguin (9-1, 6KO). Hard-hitting Carlos “El Tiburon” Sanchez (11-0, 10KO), who hails from San Felipe, Mexico, also will be looking to remain undefeated in a six round bout at junior welterweight.
“It’s an honor to team up with Rumble in Rio for this event,” said Victory Boxing Promotions’ Promoter Chris Middendorf. “Any time we have the opportunity to put our events to work in the community, that’s something we’d like to do.”
Doors for Rumble in Rio open at 6 p.m., and first bell is at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 18. For ticket information, visit www.rumbleinrio.org.