FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – Chukchansi Park was filled with boxing fans Saturday night, ready to watch Valley native Marc Castro enter the ring – but the event was about more than boxing.
Local farmers have partnered with several boxers and organizers of this event to bring attention to the drought that has plagued California, specifically in the Central Valley.
Mario Santoyo is on the board of the California Latino Water Coalition, and he saw Saturday night’s boxing event as an opportunity to connect with boxers from the valley and bring attention to the issues it faces.
“We’re in that world right now, I think if we have a continued drought next year, we’ll see a lot of farmers go out of business,” said Santoyo.
This summer has brought one of the worst droughts in recent history. Farmers like Joe Del Bosque struggling to keep their crops alive.
“We had a terrible year this year because we didn’t have enough water. We had to fallow – that is, lay idle – about a third of our farm,” explained Del Bosque.
Historically, the coalition has partnered with boxers like Jose Ramirez during the ‘Fight for Water’ series. Ramirez was at the fight on Saturday, saying it’s not only important to bring awareness to the drought, but also recognize how the agriculture industry gives immigrants a chance.
“Agriculture gives all of the hard-working immigrants here a chance to get a head start. It’s the only industry that really employs them,” Ramirez explained.
Santoyo says Saturday’s event was hopefully the start of a long partnership with the organizations and boxers in the Central Valley, hoping the more people who advocate for water in the valley, will help create some change.