During the COVID-19 shutdown in New York City, I walked by Mendez Boxing and saw flowers and condolence notes mounded in front of the gym’s locked doors. I called Ricky Ray Taylor, a trainer at Mendez, and he confirmed that Francisco Mendez, the founder of Mendez Boxing Gym, had died of COVID-19. It was shocking news, as I had trained many times at Mendez and saw first-hand how the incredible sense of community there flowed from Francisco. After I got off the phone with Ricky Ray, I knew that I had to tell Francisco Mendez’s story.
Filmed during the height of the pandemic in New York City, my initial goal was to tell the story of Francisco Mendez as a boxing trainer within the New York City boxing community. But as I interviewed trainers, boxers, and family members, I soon found that his story was much larger. His whole life was defined by family, hard work, and the pursuit of the American Dream.
As a filmmaker, I am drawn to the narratives, personalities, and lives surrounding sports and community. I am truly honored that the Mendez Boxing family has trusted me to tell Francisco’s story.