Forest Erwin wasn’t sure what to expect when he walked into San Ardo Boxing Club last year. The aspiring filmmaker from Paso Robles was just looking for a good story to tell.
It was there, in that 500-person town in southern Monterey County, that Erwin first met Kevin Perez, an up-and-coming amateur boxer. The two quickly became friends.
In January, Perez was the focus of a 4-minute documentary produced and edited by Erwin and fellow Paso Robles native Jordan Braly.
“I’m very passionate about being involved with people on the fringe of society and showcasing the beauty in the abnormal,” said Erwin, who now lives in New York City and works as a freelancer in the film industry.
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“My ultimate hope is that through my photography I can inspire broken people to relinquish their prejudice towards things they don’t understand.”
The documentary details a life centered around boxing and family.
Perez, 19, was born in Corona and moved to Paso Robles when he was 5 years old. He started boxing competitively at 11 and — under the direction of San Ardo Boxing Club coach Rodolfo Tapia — Perez owns a 10-5 record with three TKOs.
The son of two Mexican immigrants, Perez described a humble upbringing and expressed gratitude for the sacrifices his parents made on his behalf.
“You’ve got to take those things into account and not let those sacrifices go to waste, you know?” said Perez, a 2016 Paso Robles High School graduate.
Perez headlined the Battle of the Coast Boxing Show at Kennedy Club Fitness in Paso Robles in June — an event that hosted boxing clubs from Fresno, San Jose, Santa Maria, Modesto, Salinas and Bakersfield — and won his 132-pound bout by unanimous decision.
He defeated an opponent from the 139-pound division by unanimous decision a month later at the Rock Gym in Salinas.
Perez said his next fight is scheduled for later this month in Modesto.
“You need to be cut from a certain cloth to succeed in boxing,” Perez said. “You got to put yourself through, through hell pretty much, to come out with your hand raised.
“I feel like I’m cut from that cloth.”