The working world, the neighborhood, the refrigerators and the garbage collection trucks. Much of this portrayed "Champions of Life," the successful 1999 Pol-ka strip, in which protagonist Guido Guevara, played by Osvaldo Laport, was a retired veteran boxer who trained his chicken Valentín D'Alessandro (Mariano Martínez), a promising young boxing player who made a living carrying garbage bags.
"Even if it rains, snows or thunders, you have to get up / That we do not lack work or the desire to dream / May sleep bring work and work dignity." The strip, which measured more than 20 rating points, had the catchy musical curtain of Alejandro Lerner, which painted a fresco of the crisis of the time. Twenty-four years later, Yoel Peralta emerges, a 28-year-old who, although he does not act, is a sacrificial carilindo similar to Valentín de Martínez.
Yoel poses with his World Council and International Federation boxing champion belts. Photo: Fernando de la Orden
"Many have told me but I did not know who it was, until they showed me some chapters on YouTube. The kid in the strip was a boxer with a future, and to eat he needed a secure income, as it happens to me, "slips with shyness Peralta, who talks to Clarín in the center of the ring -literally- of his gym in Tortuguitas.
"With my brother Yamil – also an outstanding cruiserweight boxer – and other friends we raised this humble space with our lungs so that we could have our own place to train and not go crazy going from here to there looking for where and how to get in shape."
Even if it rains, snows or thunders, as Lerner intoned, Peralta gets up, from Monday to Saturday, 4.30 in the morning, has a strong breakfast and enters Transur, the waste collection company for which he has worked for five years.
Although he did not sleep in a little foot like Laport's Guevara, he did train in humble boxes, open fields or even in home patios. "El Chacal", as Peralta is called in Del Viso, his neighborhood, is the current Latin and South American champion of the World Boxing Council and the International Boxing Federation and, because of the energy he exudes, nobody takes away the dream of being world master of the category.
At work. Until noon, Yoel is a waste collector. Photo: Fernando de la Orden
The effort is great and at an intense pace. "I work until noon as a waste broker, I get home at one o'clock in the afternoon, have lunch, take an hour of nap time and train double shifts in the evening. I do aerobics and bodybuilding and then boxing. It's hard, but it still gives me the body and I can't give advantages if I want to keep the flame of my illusion alive," he describes with a bright smile.
"May we not lack work or the desire to dream," Lerner sang and Peralta picked up the glove. "I fight as a professional since 2018 and despite being Argentine and Latin champion, the largest bag I achieved only last March, about 600 thousand pesos, which I had to distribute with my team, that's why I keep and take care of my work as a collector, which in addition to feeding me and paying taxes, is a worthy job that I am passionate about. "
Not because he is champion he belittles or leaves him aside. "I am very demanding, I never miss, I am always on time and so far no one complained," he laughs. And I tell you that my boss has no privilege with me, she has me at a trot. I can't fuck with her," he smiles again.
In the gym. In the evening, he trains double shifts. Photo: Fernando de la Orden
He started working as a picker at the age of 18, fulfilling a three-month contract. He left a good impression but went his route. "I was already an amateur boxer and I trained hard, I had aspirations, but I didn't win a mango."
So he had to search "to have a few pesos in his pocket, as my old man, who is a policeman and very severe, instilled in me. He said, 'OK, box, but you'll be a fighter.' And I grabbed what was coming." He sold coffee on the street, sweets in the bus, made food distribution. "I inherited the work culture from the family and that's my greatest pride... not letting me be, even achieving goals."
In the Team Peralta gym a constant sound spreads energy: it is the impact of the glove against the sandbag. "Hopefully I have the chance to box abroad and be able to win more succulent bags... That will give me international contact to think about being world champion. It is not impossible, I have conditions and discipline, I am fast, skillful and crafty", takes plate the number one of Argentina in the welterweight category (68 kilos) and 15th in the world ranking.
"I'm a champion in the ring, but in the company I'm just another thief," says Yoel Peralta. Photo: Fernando de la Orden
When referring to "work" Peralta talks about waste collection and says that this work complements the facet of the boxer. "While in Argentina it's not easy to make a living as a boxer, there aren't many boxing champions like me who have to work every day. I'm not complaining, what's more, I can't conceive of life being just a boxer."
Reflective and cautious, he surprises: "Actually, boxing is the one that is passing through my life, I will continue working in the truck as long as I give the body. And then I'll see, I can be a street sweeper tomorrow. Did you see the number of boxers who, already retired, are lost and ruined, not knowing what to do with their lives? I don't want that for myself."
Every morning he works with the same team of three, a driver, another "runner" and himself. "I trot behind the truck and lift bags of waste from the streets or containers. So for six hours every day, without having to listen to anyone giving me orders," he laughs heartily. We travel about 45 kilometers. I don't think about what they will say for picking up garbage, what does it matter to me, Itake more than two hundred lucas every month."
He admits that sometimes he is tired or his body hurts, "because it is an intense job, in which I not only run and load, but I am hanging in the back of the truck. My last fight, in March, was on a Saturday, I won it, but on Monday I showed up for work at 6. I'm not the champion there, I'm just another thief and I like to be one, I'm a guy who speaks little, I feel more comfortable."
He has practically the body tattooed and each drawing is explained. "The most important ones have to do with my family, my three brothers and my old people. Then I have the date of my first fight as an amateur (in 2011) and the Virgin of Luján. I am a person of faith and every year I walk there after fulfilling the will to remain as effective in my work as a collector. "
Fictional boxers. D'Alessandro (Martinez) and Guevara (Laport), the characters immortalized in Pol-ka's fiction. Photo Archive
Look around at the austere gym, but with potential. "We put it recently with my brother Yamil and other friends, but we thought of it for professionals and amateurs. The crazy thing was that shortly after opening it, about ten people began to come every day to ask us when we would open to give classes, something that was not in the plans. But such was the barrage that we decided to give classes and training."
It's time to train and respect the routine and the times. "Two days ago they confirmed a fight (on June 24 versus Cristian Reggiardo) and I have to put the batteries because I am twelve kilos up," surprises Peralta, who remarks that he is not a night owl, that he does not drink alcohol, nor does he like bowling. "Between one fight and another there can be three months and there is a certain lack of control in the meals, but I manage it." He greets with a hug and a smile, but under the ring his coach waits, with a face of "we are starting late".