Kid Gloves

Jose Jimenez bought the Showtime Boxing Gym (along with two partners) partly because he's sick of repossessing cars. A former pro boxer himself, he's never had to fistfight anyone when reclaiming a vehicle, but, he says, "I'm a black belt with my mouth. These guys come out with guns, and I gotta talk them out of it. They just put on 22-inch rims, a nice sound system, and they don't want to pay for the car." Everybody hates to see him, he laments -- even the quote-unquote good guys. "We repo cars from cops, judges, and especially lawyers!"

The gym, which is in Miami's Liberty City, is more welcoming. Sort of. "There's no A/C, no fans. The minute you walk in, you're dripping with sweat." No smoothie bar? "No, we got a ghetto bar. You could probably walk across the street and get some weed!" This, Jimenez says, is a true boxer's gym. Pro fighter Jermaine Taylor, who's getting ready to fight for the middleweight world championship, works out here.

"But pro boxing is so dirty," Jimenez opines. "All the fights are fixed." It's impossible to fix an amateur fight, he adds, because "you don't know who you'll fight until you get there." Amateurs need only apply to the USA Boxing Commission for a license and keep a logbook of their fights. When they arrive at a competition, they're matched to an opponent of similar weight and experience.

That's what will happen at Saturday's Dade vs. Broward amateur boxing title bouts -- the first show that Jimenez has put on since taking over Showtime seven months ago. The fights -- 15 bouts -- will take place at the Mahi Shrine Auditorium. "Basically, it'll be the best fighters from Dade versus the best fighters from Broward. We got some Olympians from Broward," he adds, referring to three brothers -- Ellie, Azea, and Emmanuel Augustama -- and another boxer, Jason Rosario. Well, he clarifies, "They're not Olympians yet, but they will be."

Jimenez's son Matthew -- a 9-year-old! -- will also box. "It's fun to see these little kids go at it. They have no fear!" Boxing doesn't make kids more violent, he insists; they develop discipline at the gym. "We talk to them and tell them that once you're licensed in the State of Florida, your hands are considered a lethal weapon." He tells a cautionary tale of a fellow boxer who, defending himself during a bar fight, slugged someone and got charged with attempted murder with a deadly weapon. "If we catch kids fighting in school, we suspend them from the gym -- and they don't want that." The oldest boxer fighting this weekend, he speculates, will be 28.

As if 15 sweaty beatdowns weren't enough, Jimenez has lined up five reggaeton singers to perform and enlisted comedian Larry Dogg (an HBO veteran) as emcee. Ten rappers -- half from Broward, half from Miami-Dade -- will perform; they've even come up with raps repping their home counties. Then there's Domenique Nicole, who's from Miami-Dade but lives in Broward. She'll keep the peace by singing the National Anthem.

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Deirdra Funcheon