Pablo Barboza Remembered For Generosity, Impact On Youth

Kim Barboza, left, and Gino Torrio hand out cake during a celebration for Pablo Barboza’s birthday on Friday, June 16. Pablo Barboza died on Thursday, June 15, from injuries suffered during a traffic accident on June 6. Kim Barboza is Pablo’s sister-in-law. MIRROR PHOTOS BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER
People gathered on Friday, June 16, at the Wolcott House to celebrate the life of Pablo Barboza.
Rachel Barboza, center, reacts during a celebration of life for her son, Pablo Barboza.

BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — If the true worth of a person’s life isn’t measured by the material they accumulate but by the lives they’ve impacted, then few people will have lived a life more valuable than Pablo Barboza.

A longtime wrestling coach in Maumee, Barboza died on Thursday, June 15 from injuries suffered in a traffic accident nine days prior.

The night after his passing, on what would have been Barboza’s 45th birthday, dozens of people showed up to a celebration of his life at the Wolcott House in Maumee.

Among those who attended the celebration were former teammates and wrestlers Barboza coached, friends and family.

“Pablo Barboza is a dimply smile for everybody. Pablo Barboza is the shirt off his back and what can I do to help,” said Kim Barboza, Pablo’s sister-in-law. “He was a friend to everyone. He loved his wrestlers, he loved his nieces and nephews. He just wanted to help people.”

Brandon Shoop wrestled for Barboza at Gateway Middle School. He echoed those statements, saying, “He always put others first. If it was negative-5 degrees outside and he had a T-shirt on and you told him that you were cold, he would take his shirt off and give it to you.”

Barboza graduated from Maumee High School in 1997 and quickly returned to his alma mater to help as a wrestling coach. He had long been associated with the Maumee Youth Wrestling program, serving as a coach.

Stace Torrio, who helps run the Maumee youth program with her husband, Gino, grew up around the Barboza family. When her sons were old enough to wrestle, they were coached by Barboza.

The Torrios also helped run the program before work took the family to Columbus. When they returned a few years ago, Barboza reached out and asked if they could take the program back over.

“Pablo was the reason we took it back, because I knew he would be a coach,” Stace Torrio said. “He was at every practice. I have never been in the wrestling room when Pablo wasn’t there. He goes to every tournament. You could count on him.”

One of the Torrio sons, Rocco, actually coached with Barboza, completing a circle from pupil to peer. Even when they went to Columbus, Rocco and his brother Dominic remembered Barboza.

“When we came back and heard that Pablo was still coaching, I almost couldn’t believe he was still coaching,” Rocco Torrio said.

“He loved Maumee wrestling. He was a great role model to see what you can do to give back to a sport. Whatever he had, he was always able to give back to Maumee wrestling.”

Barboza’s influence was strongly felt in the wrestling room, but according to Kim Barboza, it also spread into his neighborhood and those who knew him off the mat, too.

“He’s got generations of wrestlers that are impacted by him and he taught the right way to be a wrestler,” Kim Barboza said. “What it means to leave it all on the mat and what the friendship really means off the mat.

“He took that philosophy off the mat … where he helped with lawns, helped with snow, always the first person to ask what he can do to help.”

In a time when youth sports have turned into a big business with misplaced priorities, Stace Torrio said Barboza’s focus on the children was exactly what made him so special.

“He didn’t care about wins and losses,” she said. “He cared about kids accomplishing their goals, learning new skills, having fun, being kind, learning to lose, learning to win, supporting their teammates.

“He just loved to be in that room with those kids. He was never angry, never mean.”

No one quite knows what their world will look like without Pablo Barboza. Stace Torrio said she’s never been in the Maumee wrestling room without seeing Barboza in there. The hole left for his family is obviously larger.

The community response at last Friday’s celebration, however, has helped the family, according to Kim Barboza.

“It is uplifting for everybody,” she said. “They realize they are cared about. They are hearing about things they never knew about Pablo.

“(His mother) just told me she wants people to sit down and tell her funny stories, tell her about Pablo. Continuing to hear those good stories and him being remembered fills us up, fills our cup.”

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