In East Oakland park, student boxers fight through pandemic. Dalia ‘La Pantera’ Gomez teaches young pugilists self-defense in socially distant classes weekly.
Dalia ‘La Pantera’ Gomez teaches young pugilists self-defense in a socially distant camp every weeknight through Vertical Skillz Outreach, her Oakland-based non-profit, in San Antonio Park.
See amazing video below!
About boxing camp:
Youth fitness boxing club Pantera Camp pops up in East Oakland. This Lataina-run boxing and fitness program for kids is based out of a tent in San Antonio Park.
Dates: Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon.
Price: Free for youth. Adults pay a small donation.
Where: San Antonio Park in East Oakland.
Gomez, originally from Oxnard, moved to Oakland eight years ago. In 2004, she launched Vertical Skillz, a nonprofit that builds young people’s physical, mental, and character strength. Physical training is a big part of Gomez’s program.
At the current camp, she is mentoring 16 kids, including four formerly-incarcerated youth.
See amazing video!
How she started!
In 2012, Gomez moved to Oakland to work at a boxing gym and run a youth program from one before, in Santa Rosa.
“I moved to Oakland with $50 in my pocket,” she said. At the same time, Gomez was continuing her own boxing career, winning several tournaments including the California Golden Gloves tournament, Puerto Rico vs. California championship, and the Beautiful Brawlers championship.
Even as her own boxing career advanced, Gomez knew she wanted to continue helping youth, and hoped to one day start her own boxing camp. The opportunity presented itself at San Antonio Park.
“I was living right there on 21st Avenue and Sonoma Way, right by the park,” Gomez said. Her view of San Antonio Park—neglected by the city but a popular hangout among neighbors—gave her a vision. “I decided that I wanted to do more with Vertical Skillz, do more things for the community,” she said. “I started training kids and adults at the park and at the lake.”
How to help out!
In May, Gomez will use a grant awarded by the city of Oakland’s Department of Violence Prevention to host an all ages, Wellness Gathering in San Antonio Park.
The second annual Vertical Skillz Outreach event features free food and self-defense training for youth as well as restorative justice, history and music circles and sanitizing stations.
You can donate to the non-profit here.