“When dreams collide, Alex Vargas journey from near stardom to service.”
This past August, 74 recruits made up the 185th graduating class from the Suffolk County Police Academy. They will serve many different roles in their community. For many, this is the dream job they have always wanted; for one, this is the dream job that puts his other dreams on hold.
Undefeated super lightweight boxer Alex Vargas, known as “El Toro,” is trading his promising career in the ring to be part of a life of service as a Suffolk County Police Officer. Vargas's record stands at an impressive 12-0, and he has become one of the top draws at The Paramount in Huntington as part of the Rockin' Fight series created by promotor Joe DeGuardia.
“It was a really tough decision for me to step away from boxing. It might have been easier a few years ago. I was right at that point; I was 12-0, and I was ready to get a bigger opportunity. I could have seen myself on the Joe Smith (Alex's stablemate and fellow Long Island Boxer) undercard…at Madison Square Garden where every fighter wants to fight; I was right at that point,” Vargas said
It was clearly a difficult decision, “It took three years for me to get the call, and I end up getting the call. I was fighting, I fought September and November at The Paramount, and I was going through the process. I remember telling my parents, I really want to enjoy these last two fights because I don't know when I'm going to get back in the ring again,” shared Vargas.
Vargas prevailed in both fights, a unanimous decision win over Alejandro Munera, the Main Event of Rockin' Fights 39, and a unanimous decision win over Sebastian Chaves as the co-feature of Rockin' Fights 40, a fight Vargas took on two-week's notice. While they were solid performances, it was not exactly what he was hoping for, “I really didn't get to enjoy those fights because I was so stressed out with the job, waiting to get that call to start the academy, I wasn't 100% focused, to be honest,” said Vargas.
Preparation for any fight is hard. Preparation for a fight when you are in the process of joining the Suffolk County Police Department is a whole other level of difficulty. “It was a lot. My main focus was the job. You can't box forever; I was hoping I would get the job, but at the same time, I am fighting. I wasn't 100% focused, and I did that for the September and November fight,” he said.
“September, I didn't know if I passed everything, November, I knew I was getting in,” he shared.
While his new career is beginning, his old one is not forgotten; it is only on hold. “From what I heard, I am good to go,” he said. His fan base is already impressive, and it is about to get much bigger with his “brothers in blue.”
“From what I heard from other police officers… you'll sell double the tickets with the department behind you now,” Vargas shared. “I don't know if Suffolk has had any other fighters, which is pretty neat.”
Suffolk County Police does not have any records of any other professional fighter; Vargas seems to be the first.
It has been over a year since he has been in the ring. His longest layoff since he started his professional career, including the lost years of the pandemic, where he fought four times. It is clear that Vargas likes his new job but is excited to return to his old one, shooting for a possible return sometime in 2023.
Vargas said, “I still have some time. I am going to learn a lot and get the schedule down by January at least. I'll have a huge idea of what the job entails, the times I get out, being able to train and work around it… it's definitely doable and manageable. I just want to get it down a little bit, the mental aspect, that I know the job a little bit more, and then I can focus on boxing without being kind of stressed out,” Vargas explained.
Having a professional career in and out of the ring is a daunting challenge. Vargas is no stranger to challenges, though he was picked as his platoon leader during training, something he took very seriously. “It gave me a lot of qualities and kind of taught me a little bit how it's going to be a police officer,” Vargas said.
This is not Vargas's first hiatus from the sport he loves, “While I was in college, I stepped away almost completely.” Vargas received his associate degree from Suffolk Community College and his Batchelor's degree from SUNY Cortland. He also grabbed his bilingual certificate as well in the country of Columbia. While he was younger, he knew he was up for the challenge that returning to the ring brings, “I always knew I'd get back into it once I graduated.” He will use that experience to pave the way for a ring return.
He is very proud to be a Suffolk County Police officer, but it is clear he misses the ring, “It was really tough, seeing people I have been in the ring with fighting on TV, and I am on a break over here, but it definitely was the right decision, being a Suffolk County Police Officer is one of my dream jobs…along with being a pro boxer,” Vargas said.
Suppose he misses the possibility of fame and fortune. In that case, it is very clear that the call to serve is not lost on Vargas, “It's a job where you really have an impact, you have an actual impact on people, its older people, younger people, males, females, you can have an impact. I personally just want to make an impact (being a police officer) is where I can do it the most,” he said.
Vargas isn't the only one excited about a possible return; his promotional team shares their thoughts as well as their pride in his new career.
“We are surely looking forward to Alex's return and missed not having him fight at our recent Paramount shows due to his being in ‘boot camp.’ However, we are all very proud of him and his achievements at the Suffolk Police Department. Certainly, the relationships he makes on the force will only add to his tremendous fan base,” shared Joe DeGuardia, Founder and CEO of Star Boxing.
Tony Palmieri, Vice President of Operations for Star Boxing, shared his thoughts, “We are all really proud of and happy for Alex Vargas on becoming a Suffolk County Police Officer. We are excited to get him back in the ring in 2023 as he continues to build right where he left off.”
Maybe dreams don't have to collide; perhaps they can coexist. Alex Vargas will look to prove that point in 2023.