Salt Lake City's Rick Montoya doesn't need validation, after spending most of the last 20 years of his life developing Utah youngsters into some of the finest amateur boxers in the country.

But if this week at the Golden Gloves National Tournament of Champions is proving anything, it is that Montoya deserves to be called one of the state's best trainers.

"Rick Montoya is the best trainer here in Utah," said one of those boxers that Montoya has turned into a contender, West Valley City's Isaac Aguilar. "I just follow his instruction, and it works."

Montoya, who directs the Eastside Boxing Club and trains fighters at the Muy Thai facility in Salt Lake City, saw three of his fighters make it to Thursday's quarterfinals at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

Aguilar lost a heartbreaker at 112 pounds, while West Valley City's Jose Haro took a 3-2 win over Joshua Bowles of Pennsylvania at 125 and Salt Lake City's Alex Canez defeated Robert Sherman of Texas in another close, 3-2 decision.

"I will say it once again, Montoya's the best," Canez said.

Montoya said his experience, having attended nationals like this one all around the country, is paying off this week.

"I have seen what kind of styles work, and what to watch for," he said. "What is happening is some of the local coaches are starting to ask me how we get these wins. How are we getting as far as we are getting? So hopefully they will take what I bring to the table."

Canez, the 178-pounder who was a 245-pound football player when he walked into Montoya's gym and asked him to make him a champion, said the trainer isn't necessarily a people person, but he gets the best out of his guys.

"He knows what is going on in the ring, and he is able to communicate with us," Canez said. "He knows how to motivate us. I mean, sometimes we disagree, but he's a great trainer all around."

What does he do to motivate you?

"We are not allowed to say bad words, but yeah, he definitely knows how to talk to us and get the best out of us," Canez said.

Haro said his father got him into boxing, but Montoya is keeping him there.

"He has confidence in me, and I have confidence in him," said the Golden Gloves national semifinalist. "Overall, he's a great person, and if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here."