LUIS RESTO stands on a Bronx street corner, outside the Morris Park Boxing Club where he sometimes offers valuable nuggets of advice. The ex-fighter, notorious for a single sickening moment in the sport’s chequered history, is now 63 years of age, the passage of time evident in his lined face, though not in his well-sculpted body. Our small talk involves me telling the smiley New Yorker that I’m from the same city as The Beatles and, afforded that information, a jovial Resto guides his right hand to a firm stomach before imitating a cheery guitarist. Initial conversations centred on music and accents but now, in the comfort of Resto’s favourite eatery, The Golden Eagle Diner, it’s time to talk boxing; a subject that has haunted Luis since 1983.
Throughout our long chat, Luis is intermittently disturbed by locals of all ages playfully boxing with the jolly pensioner who is trying to enjoy a basic breakfast. A popular figure in this neighbourhood, Resto is invariably addressed by his surname and has called The Bronx home all his life. He was raised there by a single mother who moved to New York’s northernmost borough from Puerto Rico.
“It’s all changed now; the kids have all changed,” opines Resto, wiping his greasy hands on a worn tracksuit top that carries his name on the chest. “Those streets right outside were chaos and crazy when I was a kid. We didn’t stay in playing phones or video games. Just outside you would have a baseball game. You would have kids getting chased everywhere after causing some trouble. Every single night in The Bronx you would have some sort of fight where kids settled their differences. There were knives and guns, but most of the time, kids just fought with fists.”