MISSION — From Eric “Drummer Boy” Molina to Brandon “The Heartbreaker” Figueroa, the Rio Grande Valley has a long and proud history of producing professional boxing champions. But they all started from somewhere.

The South Texas Amateur Boxing Association’s “Schools Out Knock Out” event aims to refine boxing skills at an early age, and in a safe and controlled environment.

Santos Aleman wins the Pee Wee bout against Brandon Soto during the South Texas Amateur Boxing Association’s “Schools Out Knock Out’ event at the Cosmopolitan Banquet Center on Friday in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Held at the Cosmopolitan Banquet Center in Mission on Friday, young athletes in the peewee to junior weight divisions tried their hand in competition.

Amateur boxing is physically demanding but different from professional. Headgear ensures less major injuries and makes knockouts infrequent, punches count independently of their relative power, and a standing eight-count gives a fighter who isn’t answering punches a chance to recover and does not count against that fighter in the final score.

Kristopher Hernandez grimaces during his amateur Pee Wee bout against Victorino Ovalle during the South Texas Amateur Boxing Association’s “Schools Out Knock Out” event at The Cosmopolitan Banquet Center on Friday in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Also, only professional fights are called fights. In order to distinguish between pro and amateur events, the amateur events are called bouts or matches.

Amateur bouts are judged on five metrics: Number of quality blows landed on the target area, domination of the bout, competitiveness, technique and tactics superiority, and non-infringement of rules.

Juan Caldera, 12, from Kingsville, prepares for his amateur bout against Santiago Santos during the South Texas Amateur Boxing Association’s “Schools Out Knock Out” event at the Cosmopolitan Banquet Center on Friday in Mission. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])