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Bayside trainer gears up for Golden Gloves

Standing tall in a basement office at the Tiger Schulmann’s school on Bell Avenue Monday afternoon, Julio Arce was a man of few words as he spoke about his upcoming semi-final match in the Golden Gloves boxing competition.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” said the 21-year-old mixed-martial arts fighter. “I’ll let my hands do the talking. I want to make it to MSG.”

Should Arce win his novice-class match Friday at the Empire City casino in Yonkers, he will advance to the finals at Madison Square Garden in two weeks. If that happens, his sensei, Bryan Gotthoffer, predicted Arce would have a strong home-ring advantage: “If we make it to the Garden, forget about it. We’ll pack the place.”

Gotthoffer pulled out a picture of Arce as an out-of-shape 13-year-old boy as a testament to what eight years of hard work, discipline and dedication had done to transform him into the young man he is today.

Most of Gotthoffer’s students come to train under him and his instructors, or joshus, in order to gain confidence and self-respect. One out of every hundred, though, demonstrate what Gotthoffer characterizes as an addiction to the basic principles of training: a love of competition, a resolute work ethic and a need to constantly push oneself.

After commenting on the youthful looks of his young protégé, Gotthoffer added with unmitigated pride, “He’s got an old soul.”

Arce has a 10-0 record as a Mixed Martial Arts fighter, is 4-1 as a kickboxer and 4-0 as a boxer. He holds two MMA title belts and one grappling belt, which are proudly displayed in front of the large windows looking out onto Bell Boulevard.

As an MMA fighter, he normally spends only one-quarter of his time training as a boxer, with the rest of his time being devoted to kick boxing, wrestling and submissions.

Now that he is fighting in the city’s largest amateur boxing competition, he wakes up early every morning to drive from his home in Fresh Meadows to the Tiger Schulmann’s headquarters in Elmwood Park, N.J., where he trains. Afterward, he drives to Bayside, where he passes his knowledge on to the school’s students — some as young as 5. After a full day of work as a joshu, it is back to New Jersey for another training session.

Since the end of January, Arce has been fighting his way through what is considered by some as a breeding ground for Olympic boxers — at times winning handily. Gotthoffer said he totally dominated his last opponent with excellent movement and explosive speed on offense.

“He basically landed everything he threw, and the other guy barely landed a hand on him,” the sensei said.

Arce’s work ethic demonstrates his sensei’s mantra that fights are won not in the ring, but in the preparation.

“Every day I wake up I know I have to make myself stronger,” said Arce. “While your opponents are sleeping, you’re training. It makes me that much stronger.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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