A BENDIGO boxing gym is strengthening its ties in the Asian region, taking one of the Philippines' most promising female boxers under its wing.
The California Gully-based Vinton Street Gym (VSG) has added Philippines national flyweight champion 'Chay' Carleans Rivas to its stable of professional boxers.
VSG backed Rivas in her most recent bout last month, a split decision win over fellow Filipino Floryvic Montero, at Calbayog City, on a card featuring Bendigo boxer Brad Morgan.
The 25-year-old Morgan notched his seventh career win (six via knock-out) with an impressive second-round stoppage, to maintain his unbeaten record.
Rivas, a church elder, will continue to be based in the Philippines, with VSG lending promotional and technical support and expertise in a bid to further her career, which has so far brought eights wins, six losses and four draws since 2011.
Brothers Pat and Gary Connolly, who run the gym and VSG Promotions, said the company had been working with Rivas for a while and had decided to make things official.
"Chay is an outstanding fighter but more importantly she is a great role model who is committed to caring for her family, friends and the community ... a good fit for our team and values," said Gary Connolly.
"Our main role will be to raise her international profile and support her manager, mum Ana, when required.
"We want to make sure she receives the necessary support to succeed with her career both in and out of the ring."
Connolly was confident Rivas, whose background was in Muay Thai fighting, could improve her record and eventually snare some bigger opportunities.
"She has got a good record, but not a great record, but she is definitely improving," he said.
"Most of her losses have come from when she has travelled to places like Japan, where she's been put up against former world champions.
"Just through boxing links and our (VSG) trips over to Asia the last few years, we have struck up a friendship and tried to help her with her career.
"We help her out where we can, getting her down to (trainer and promoter) Brix Flores' gym, and looking for opportunities.
"She unofficially represented VSG in her last fight as we co-promoted that event. We were keen to have her on the card, purely because she needed another fight and the exposure."
VSG has made several forays into Asia in recent years, with Morgan having fought three-times in the region.
Fellow Bendigo professional Dino Rafaeles has fought four times in the Philippines, while another of the stable Matt Hall has had two fights in Asia.
The gym has hosted several visiting Asian fighters in recent years, with some appearing on VSG Promotions last show in 2018.
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