Cain Sandoval hopes that boxing can show him a better world than the one he sees in the violence of Sacramento, CA, every day.
On April 6, 2021, six people were killed on the streets of Sacramento, CA, in what was called the K Street Shootout. There’s evidence that the shooting was gang-related. Gang warfare is an emerging problem in Sacramento, but one that’s been around for a long time. Lightweight boxer Cain Sandoval has grown up surrounded by Sacramento’s violence for his entire life.
“Yeah, it’s [viloence] become normal to me,” Sandoval said to FanSided.
Sandoval is only 19 years old, but boxing has given the young fighter a positive outlet in a world surrounded by chaos.
Sandoval started boxing at six years old. His uncle got him into it, but Sandoval’s family has a boxing heritage.
“But since I was like, five, my dad’s been telling me that his grandpa used to box,” Sandoval said. “My aunt used to box, and my dad used to box. It’s really just in my blood, to be honest.”
Sandoval grew up in a rough part of Sacramento, but boxing helped keep him grounded, motivated, and out of trouble. It also exposed him to a world outside the one he was used to seeing daily in his hometown.
Cain Sandoval attempts to go 6-0 against Daniel Evangelista Jr. on Friday, Aug. 5
“I started traveling for national tournaments,” Sandoval said. “And I’ve seen other places how they are. And I’m like, wow. There’s more outside of Sac. I’m so used to just like, just like, you know, the ghetto. And so then I see out there like, oh, we got these tournaments with everybody. They’re like, trying to win this tournament. And I was just like, there’s more to life than just Sac.”
Traveling for boxing tournaments allowed Sandoval to see other parts of the U.S. that weren’t mired in violence. He saw how boxing could take him away from his cruel surroundings, and that’s when his ambitions as a professional boxer began.
Sandoval performed well in over 100 amateur bouts and had dreams of boxing in the Olympics, but the politics of boxing weren’t on his side.
“You know how amateur boxing is,” Sandoval said. “Fight in a guy’s hometown–it’s a close fight–you’re not going to get the fight. In national tournaments, I feel like I’ve dominated. Straight dominated, and they’ll go the other way, and I’m like, me, my family, my team, really sacrifice a lot of things to be here just to get done like that.”
While Sandoval also missed the age cutoff to qualify for the Olympics, he was already disenfranchised by the bias he felt he received from judges in larger tournaments. He decided it was time to turn professional at 18.
Sandoval has done well for himself since turning pro in August 2021. He has won all five of his bouts by knockout. Sandoval steps up in competition on Friday, Aug. 5, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Sacramento.
Sandoval’s opponent is Daniel Evangelista Jr. (20-14-2, 16 KOs). Evangelista has won more than he lost and has double-digit KO victories.
Evangelista’s primary weapon is experience. He has fought Tito Mercado, Hank Lundy, Isaac Cruz, and Argenis Mendez. He didn’t win those bouts but has been in with elite competition.
Sandoval sees this as his moment to start challenging himself more in the ring.
“Yeah, this is the first like real step up for me, to be honest,” Sandoval said. “That’s how I’m seeing it.”
Sandoval has a solid team behind him, ranging from his trainer to his manager. He’s realistic about the business and knows that he has to win big to attract a major promoter’s attention to someday get the type of bouts that can turn him into a star.
“When I used to go to nationals, I’m like, oh yeah, Top Rank going to pick me up right away, or this manager is going to pick me up right away,” Sandoval said. “And like when I turned pro, I just like, it’s like slowly a grind. You know, maybe one day they’ll pick me up.”
Sandoval hopes that a renowned promoter will spot his work in the ring. He’s dedicated to making that happen and doing all he can to become a better boxer.
Until then, Sandoval is still surrounded by the harsh realities of Sacramento, but he knows what’s beyond the city limits and believes, with all of his being, that boxing is his means to living a better life in a safer place.