Let’s hear it for Peter Welch, Jr! Also, congratulations to Peter and his family, father, Peter Sr., mom Joanne, and sisters Joyce and Ella. It takes a village.
You can inherit lots of things from your family – your height, your eye color, even your blood type. But in the case of Peter Welch Jr, 22, he inherited his father’s grit and determination. You could say his fierce relentlessness is in his blood.
Peter, Jr, recently won the New England Championships last weekend in Melrose. In fact, he won each bout, four total, over several weeks in the 156lb sub-novice division leading up to the finals. In his corner were trainers Steve Baccari, Scott Rehm, and James Perella. Also coaching from the corner was his father, legendary pro boxer and owner of Peter Welch’s Gym, Peter Welch, Sr.
You could say Peter, Jr. grew up in the boxing gym located on Dorchester Ave in Southie. His father introduced him to the sport when he was just 5 years old. Just like Peter Sr.’s father had done back in the 1980s. Learning how to box up the Muni (now the Pal Gym/Walsh Community Center) for Peter Sr. was life-changing. After numerous amateur fights, Peter Sr. went on to become a Golden Gloves Champion, a professional fighter with a 5-0 record, in addition to opening a wildly successful gym in 2007. So, it’s not surprising that Peter Jr. would follow in his father’s footsteps. Both Peter Sr. and Peter Jr. agree that from boxing, you can learn valuable life skills.
“Boxing requires a true commitment to the training process, and no matter how hard you train, it’s all up to you and your abilities that determine the outcome. There are no teammates to lean on; the boxer has to perform under a great deal of pressure, risking everything in front of friends, family, and fans. Winning is fun but everyone wants to be with the Champ, but sometimes it’s in losing you gain so much and get better,” said Peter Sr.
This is a sentiment that Peter Jr. knows firsthand. In 2022, he had a rocky start in the 2022 New England Championship. Welch lost his first round in the competition, but he didn’t hang up his gloves. Instead, he just trained harder. More time in the gym sparring, road work, technical adjustments, and learning from past mistakes.
“Humility, respect, sacrifice, reflection. These are some of the things losing can teach you. Lessons for life if you ask me. The character traits of a warrior” added Peter Sr.
Peter Jr.’s style of boxing is a combo of speed and grace and he has a good punch, meaning his punch packs a wallop. Hours of training and sheer resolve helped him move forward in his goal to win a championship. He also listened to his father’s guidance and understood that he could learn from failure.
“I gained a lot of understanding about both myself and the sport. I started to learn that my personality traits, like being determined, hardworking, and persevering, would help me get to the next level,” said Peter Jr.
The oldest amateur boxing tournament in New England, the 136th annual New England Championship began at the CYO Hall in Fall River. His competition was a tall 6’3 vs. Peter’s 5’10. Peter moved about the ring, trying to gauge the distance this tall frame presented. Peter found openings and set up combos of feints and hard jabs. The body attacks continued at blazing speeds, leaving his competition stunned. With a victory under his belt, Peter’s confidence grew, taking him into his second round of competition in Middleton, MA, at Sonny’s Boxing + Fitness. The bout was stopped in the third round. Another victory for Peter. On to the next one.
Stop three on the road to the championship was in Southie at Peter Welch’s Gym to a sold-out crowd where the “energy was electric.” One more win for the hometown kid, Peter.
The fourth and final bout took place to a capacity crowd of nearly 800 boxing fans at Melrose Memorial Hall. Peter won by a split decision. In addition to winning the 156lb sub-novice championship, he also received the Outstanding Boxer of the Tournament award!
When asked about what the victory meant to Peter Jr, he said, “I was able to prove that I’m a fighter. I fought hard through all four bouts in the tournament and it showed I came a long way from last year. That means a lot to me. It also means a lot to my family and my neighborhood of South Boston.”
To say coaching your kid is nerve-racking would be an understatement. “I have at least 10 heart attacks leading up to every match,” laughs Peter Sr. Coaching his son with a careful, watchful eye, he made sure the training situations were challenging but, at the same time, safe and progressively successful. He also relied on his co-coaches, who gave objective insights. “You need that so you can decide what to do on the fly and execute,” added Peter Sr.
So what’s next for Peter Jr? He’ll continue his training with his father, running and sparring regularly, in preparing for the 2024 New England Golden Gloves in January, all while focusing on his studies at Suffolk University. He’s a senior with a major in Business Entrepreneurship.
“I’m not sure what exactly I want to do after college, but I do know that boxing will always be a part of my life,” said Peter Jr. “As a coach, my father has taught me technical things like, ‘defense first’ because boxing is the sweet science of ’to hit and not get hit.” But more importantly, he’s taught about humility and how to be humble. That, above all, means a lot to me because humility and being humble doesn’t just apply in the ring, but it applies to life as well,” he added.
As for Peter Sr, you can find him at Peter Welch’s Gym on any given day, teaching and coaching. As for what he envisions for his son’s future, he said:
“I want the same for any of my three kids, to do something fulfilling enough and make a living doing it. I also want Pete to learn the same lessons I learned from boxing. The trophies are great. The belt is pretty cool, but the biggest reward is who you become because of it. It’s bigger than boxing. And it’s about passing on that same lesson to family, friends, and even future champs. It’s about making connections and helping others.”
If you’re interested in having your kids learn how to box, you can reach out to Peter at the gym.
“If you want them to develop character, respect, and discipline of a fighter, sign them up for some lessons. The younger, the better.”
A few words of thanks from Peter Sr. to the training team:
Although there are no teammates in the ring when you box, most times, there’s a strong team behind the boxer. Your trainers are there for every training session, every ache and pain, every backward step, every bloody nose, and the list goes on. Our team is no exception.
Steve Baccari has been in the corner with me and Pete since Pete’s first match. When Pete was old enough, Steve started him lifting weights and it had a huge impact on his punching speed and power. If I couldn’t be there for any reason, sparring or whatever, I’m rest assured knowing Steve is there looking after him. He’s always encouraging in the corner, pointing things out that improve Pete’s chances for victory. He’s a great trainer and corner man, but before all that, he’s a great friend.
When something’s coming up, you never have to ask him. He just says, “What time do you want me to be there? And he’s usually a half hour early. (Real old school.)
It’s rare you have two of the best corner men with you at every fight. It’s even less common that they would be great friends. I’ve worked many corners in multiple UFC fights with Scott Rehm and they don’t come any better than this guy! Scott wraps Pete’s hands before every fight. In the first bout, Pete caught a right hand that caused an acorn-sized lump on his left eye. Scott flattened it out and it was never an issue. It could have been a problem if not taken care of. Scott’s expertise is always appreciated and we always look forward to having him in the corner with us.
You can see Scott on many UFC events, closing cuts and wrapping hands. He’s the guy with the “Boston Strong” jacket on. Scott drives up from the Cape to help Pete in the corner and is always in a great mood with positive energy. This is important before you do the walk to the ring. Things have to be just right and Scott brings his experience from the ring and octagon with him every time. We couldn’t have a better-cut man than him.
Thank you to James “The Slim Reaper” Perella. I started him boxing when he was 10 years old. He’s had over 150 amateur fights and is 15-0 as a professional. He trained Pete on a number of occasions this camp and has been in the corner with us every fight! He has been putting work in with Pete, teaching him the finer points of boxing. It’s been interesting to watch how quickly Pete picked up on James’s training style. James is a great prospect and I look forward to seeing him climb through the ranks as a pro. His current status and experience help sharpen Pete’s skillset and raise his boxing IQ. Every little effort for improvement was noted and will be part of our game plan moving forward.
Special thanks to Mark Gagaro, P.J. Feeney, and the entire team at Nonantum Boxing. The sparring at Nonantum made it easy to improve. It was tough, but exactly what Pete needed to be ready for the best in New England. Some of the adjustments we made were traveling to other gyms for sparring in which every trip was like going through fight day. When you go to an outside gym, it can be as intense as fight day. This process is what gives a fighter his edge; it is a make-or-break process.
I would also like to give a shoutout to all of my family and friends who have supported me on this journey. I truly appreciate you, and your support does not go unrecognized! Southie baby, we did it!