Find weather alerts in your area, click here

Beloved QC boxing legend remembered

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

For more than 40 years, Alvino Peña changed the lives of hundreds of kids in the Quad Cities through his Davenport Boxing Club. He died, Thursday, March 20, 2014 after a battle with Alzheimer's at the age of 82.

His life work is continuing through those hoping to pay it forward.

Behind the boxers in the ring at the Davenport Boxing Club are black and white photos of the man who made it possible for them to be there.

“I'll be 45 this year. In my time, that was my superhero. He’s somebody when I grew up, I feared and respected and honored what he was doing, and as I got older, I can’t help but love what he’s done for us,” said Leonard Overstreet.

Alvino Peña opened the Davenport Boxing Club in 1968.

“He just told me he wanted to make a difference,” said Overstreet.

Working two jobs to keep the gym open, Peña invited kids into the ring, who had been knocked down or needed a positive place to put their feet.

“He loved every kid, black white, purple, Chinese, it didn't make a difference,” said Overstreet.

Leonard Overstreet was one of those kids.

“He loved me when I didn't love myself,” he said.

Overstreet started boxing with Peña when he was nine.

“If he didn't yell at you, you must didn't have no talent,” said Overstreet.

Leonard did. And he had a promising boxing career until he was sent to prison for drugs. When he got out 12 years later, it was Peña who was there, making him promise he’d stay on the straight and narrow.

“And I'm gonna do it Alvino. I promise you, I'm gonna do that,” said Overstreet.

Alvino helped hundreds of other kids and coached some to regional, national, even world titles. Michael Nunn and Antwun Echols are some of the most recognized names. In 1999, he was inducted to the National Golden Gloves Hall of Fame and a few years later into the Quad City Sports Hall of Fame.

“He's put together a legacy,” said Overstreet.

His pride was in his gym. He was there every day, without pay.

“They don't make men like him anymore. That man's a father, a leader, that man is a dream maker, he's my superhero,” said Overstreet.

And although he’s gone, after his own fight with Alzheimer’s and cancer, what Alvino Peño stood for and worked for, will live on through people like Leonard Overstreet who is now a coach in Peña’s gym.

“If coming here every day is what I gotta do to get a piece of him, knowing he’s gonna smile down on me, that's what I'm gonna do,” said Overstreet.


  • amos manley

    So true…. He simplified the meaning of a man…. a leader, a mentor, a father and a role model to so many ..he altered the lives of so many young people through his unselfish service. The boys, their mothers and fathers can count the ways he helped their situations by his open arms and door . I myself never really told him how much he has done for me, but I have lived my life the best I always wanting to make him proud and never letting him down knowing that my actions are a respective of what aas instilled in me via the DBC…..let me close. Coach job well done!!!

  • Author Joyce Godwin Grubbs

    I respectfully post this on behalf of my sister Trula Ann Godwin and myself. We both knew this determined man and respected what he did for young people. We especially appreciated that he saw boxing as a venue for “kids who had it tough” to become “tough kids who could survive.” Our biological father Lloyd Godwin had been one of those men who found his way through boxing in the hard times of the 1930’s and we supported Alvino and his work as a tribute to our dad. As a police officer working the inner city for 27 years Trula saw the good work and results of Alvino Pena first hand. Hope they are “together” now having a conversation about it. RIP Alvino, you did good my friend.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.