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  • Tara Crutchfield

Creating Champions

Marco Fazzini’s office is littered with stories and posters of his boxers’ successes. “I like to fix the cars to race them. I don’t just like to fix them,” he said. He looked around and added, “A lot of hard work.” Winter Haven Boxing has a winning tradition. With a coach like Marco Fazzini, and fighters like Brandon Moore and Tristan Gallichan, that tradition looks to continue. Coach Fazzini will indeed have more to add to his office wall. 


Fazzini, who owns the gym, has been immersed in the sport his whole life. The Frostproof native comes from a boxing family. “My grandfather was a prizefighter. We always had a gym in our house,” he said. In 1992, Fazzini’s dad brought him to Jack Leonard, who started the Winter Haven gym in 1984. “This is actually the original ring that a lot of people learned in,” Fazzini said. Leonard first boxed as an amateur at age 14 and turned professional as a welterweight. His legacy is honored with his cornerman’s jacket and photo on the wall. “He had a lot of world champions and a lot of quality fighters.” 


From there, Fazzini worked with Tony Morgan, who notoriously trained Andre Berto. Fazzini described Morgan as a mentor when he took over the gym in 2012. “They were big shoes to fill – I’m not going to lie. We do have a winning tradition here.”


Fazzini has worked tirelessly, keeping up that tradition with a competitive roster of 12 amateurs and seven professional boxers. “It’s a serious place. If someone wants their kid to compete, this is usually where they’ll take them. People will shy away from this gym because they know they’re going to have to work a lot.”


Two local Boxing pros who have put in the work, Brandon Moore and Tristan Gallichan, came to Fazzini with zero experience. “They are both products of Polk County. I started them from scratch,” Fazzini said. 

The pair have done their part to bring in big wins for the boxing gym, nabbing national titles on the amateur level and sweeping up gold medals at the Eastern Qualifiers and multiple Sugar Bert tournaments. “I feel really proud,” Coach Fazzini said of his fighters. “I try not to get too excited because with the highs come the lows, and in boxing, those two feelings come a lot.” 


TRISTAN GALLICHAN 


Tristan Gallichan, competing in the junior welterweight division, stands 5’8” and weighs in at 140 lbs. The 27-year-old got into boxing at age 18 and turned pro in June. He thought back to his first amateur fight at 20 years old. “Twenty fights later, I’m fighting one of the best guys in the state. Thirty fights later, I’m fighting the top tenth guy in the world. It’s been a long, crazy journey,” he said.  


Gallichan, who works as a sushi chef when he isn’t in the ring, says he endeavors to grow daily. He’s won numerous state, national, and Sugar Bert titles and was a semifinalist in the Golden Gloves two years ago. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without my coach,” Gallichan said. “I started out as a nobody, and now I’m a somebody.” When he first came to Winter Haven Boxing, he lacked motivation and discipline. Coach Fazzini changed all that. “He is a hard ass, but it’s with love. It’s tough love. […] If we listen to him, we know we’re going to go far in life. He’s taught me more than just boxing. He’s taught me how to be a man, how to carry myself, how to take care of other people. […] Thank God I have a coach that takes me seriously, takes the sport seriously, and takes the gym seriously. As long as I’m with him, I can’t go wrong.”


The Winter Haven Boxing champ has advice for anyone looking to get into the sport. “Stay focused, stay in the gym, stay dedicated. Find yourself a good coach, find yourself good friends that are part of the gym, and keep grinding,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, you never know how far you can take yourself with this sport.” 


Gallichan’s goals are to see how far he can take his career and to be a positive influence in the community, especially to the kids in the gym. “The kids motivate me and make me want to stay in the gym,” he said. “As long as the kids look at me as the best in their eyes – I’m good, I’m chillin’.” 

Reflecting on his boxing journey, Gallichan said his biggest accomplishment has been making his parents proud. 


BRANDON MOORE 


“Brandon is on his way to probably be one of the best heavyweights in the world,” Fazzini said of Moore. The professional heavyweight from Lakeland towers at 6’6” and weighs in at 238 lbs. He played basketball at Southeastern University, where he was named Freshman of the Year, made All-Conference, and got into the Final Four. After graduating with his accounting and finance degree, Moore traveled the world as a flight attendant. 


Putting his accounting background to good use, Moore crunched the numbers on what sports one could play and make it to the top the fastest. Six years ago, after getting off work, he made his way to Winter Haven Boxing. “Coach told me he didn’t believe I wanted to really box,” Moore remembers. “I came to the gym, and I never left.”


Growing up in Polk County, Moore said, “Sometimes I didn’t have the right guidance. […] When I came to the gym, I really was a little boy.” He was 24, just getting out of college, and trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. “The gym really honed it in for me.”


Coach Fazzini encouraged Moore to buy his first home and even helped him build his backyard fence. That led to Moore finishing the fence and starting his own fencing and lawn companies. “Me starting those businesses made me realize how to treat boxing – as a business. You have to take all those little things seriously,” he said. 


The journey to pro has been arduous, but having played college basketball, Moore was used to training hard. “I knew what I was getting into when I started,” he said. He committed himself to training 300 out of the 365 days a year. “Hard work pays off,” he said. “Playing basketball, those values and that hard work, it shows you that if you apply that work to other things, it’ll be the same. If I would have put my mind to something else with the same amount of tenacity, I think I would have been as good at that as well.”


Moore has gone on to the Olympic qualifiers and won a national championship, with some of his title belts on display at the gym. He’s also won several Florida Golden Gloves titles and placed in the final eight at the Golden Gloves National Championship. In 2021, Moore won the WBC Silver Title in Mexico. “This is what really broke him into the rankings,” Fazzini said.


Moore’s biggest fan? His six-year-old daughter, Marley. “I really take pride in my daughter,” he said. Marley has been going to the gym with him since she was a baby. “I want her to know what hard work looks like.” Moore showed off a video of his daughter erupting in cheers from the crowd for her dad. “I only want her to see me in the capacity of winning.”


While his daughter and kids at the gym look up to Moore, the professional boxer admires his coach. “He saved me when I had nothing. […] He showed me how to be a man, how to be serious. He saved my life,” Moore said of Fazzini. 


“When I first started boxing, I wanted to put myself into a position where I could speak to people,” Moore said. “I’m good at it, and I know I can motivate. I want to show the community that you can be from here and still be a positive influence.” Moore’s long-term goals don’t end with boxing. “Boxing is a step to put me in the right direction. I’m a big Polk County product,” he said. “You never know, I could become the mayor.”


Photographs by Amy Sexson


Winter Haven Boxing Gym

2510 Avenue G NW, Winter Haven

(863) 207-7460

Facebook @Winter Haven Boxing

Instagram @winterhavenboxing1




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