HELENA — Two H-Town Eagles Boxing Club competitors Duran "Buster" Caferro and Dontae Velarde were recipients of the American Legion Award.

The 11-year-old local boxers who were recognized by their peers had to exhibit qualities such as courage, leadership and patriotism, which are the cornerstones of the boxing club's mission statement.

Their classmates selected Velarde of Broadwater Elementary and Caferro of Bryant Elementary. They won the award by secret ballot.

Both boxers have had 30 fights and have competed since they were 8 years old. 

Caferro is the grandson of Duran Caferro, Sr. and son of Duran Caferro, Jr., who also won the American Legion Award in 2000. Both of them are said to be significant influences in his life.

Velarde's parents, his stepmother Lexi Powers and father Justin Wood, are excited about the possibilities of him continue to grow as a person and boxer.

The two boxers both received an award they can use on scholarship applications, according to Caferro, Sr., who is the owner of H-Town Boxing Club.

Buster Caferro, Velarde and Anthony Espino also won the H-Town designated Muhammad Ali Award for boxers who exhibit a strong work ethic, leadership and service to others.

The H-Town club also has an education fund called Knowledge Is Power, which is an education fund that encourages children to succeed academically.

If they earn straight As they received $50, depending on the boxing foundation's budget. In the past, students have received as high as $100 each for achieving a perfect report card.

Oliver and Ella Schultz, along with Buster Caferro and Velarde were recipients of the academic awards.

"They reflect our motto of building champions inside and outside the ring," Caferro, Sr. said. "This is one of the most prestigious awards they can receive, and it will carry with them the rest of their life. They will be able to have access to scholarships because of their recognition in this award."

Caferro, Sr. said the boxers developed qualities in the classroom through the training they've received in the ring.

"Boxing has had kind of a black mark on it," Caferro, Sr. said. "It doesn't seem like it is the most savory type of sports. These kids demonstrated they are good kids who work hard in school and are leaders in their community. I am proud of what they do in the ring, and outside the ring, as well."

Jason Blasco is the lead prep sports reporter for the Helena Indepedent-Record and a sports reporter for the 406mtsports.com network.

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