Fighters 4 Life Raise Funds for Give a Kid a Dream
Warren Rosenberg - MetroSports Magazine ; Photography by Sal Acquista
Although thought by many to be a brutal sport, boxing has long played an important role in helping the development and confidence of adolescent youth. In commenting on the positive impact that boxing can play in the development of inner-city and underprivileged youth, Macarthur fellow and member of the Harvard University Society of Fellows, Loic Wacquant, characterizes youth oriented inner-city boxing programs as “an island of stability and order” in their otherwise tumultuous lives.
On a recent Friday evening in Brooklyn, New York, Gleason’s world famous boxing gym hosted an event to help raise funds to support just such a cause. Founded in 1937, Gleason’s is one of New York City’s iconic sports venues and has been the home of many storied boxing champions including Muhammad Ali, Jake LaMotta, Mike Tyson, Yuri Foreman and, most recently Alicia “Slick” Ashley, a 2021 inductee into the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame. Over $8,000 was raised through the event.
In the event held at Gleason’s on Friday night, November 19, 2021, twenty-two boxers stepped into the ring for an 11-bout fight card as part of the evening’s ‘Fighters 4 Life’ program to help raise funds for 'Give a Kid a Dream’ a charitable foundation established by Gleason’s in 1991. As stated on the Give a Kid a Dream website, “We help inner-city youth in their formative years. We work to instill confidence through boxing training, tutor to help with school work, and provide a safe haven for our participants” and, most recently, have begun to use the Oculus virtual reality system in their training.
Above: Harrison Buckley of London UK in his bout against Alexandr Babenko of NYC Cops & Kids who took home the win. Photo Credit: Sal Acquista, https://www.professorofboxingphotography.com/
In describing the the success of the program, Gleason's Gym website notes that, "At first most of our participants demonstrate frustration and disappointment at life and seem closed to positive energy of any kind. They appear to have lost faith and confidence in people and they have zero self esteem. The program is difficult in that the boxing training is vigorous and the tutoring is real work. We believe that most of our participants have never been challenged or put to task. As the participants progress and make it through the long Saturdays of work we find the walls they created by their life experience starts to fade and a wonderful and more happy young adult emerges."
One of the program’s many success stories is Tommy Martinez who, with the help of Give a Kid a Dream, went from the streets of Brooklyn to the halls of New York University. Quoted from the NYU’s Class of 2019 website, “Tommy Martinez is an undergraduate student enrolled at the NYU Stern School of Business. Tommy was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. During his sophomore year at Midwood High School, Tommy took up an interest in boxing which became a deep passion for him. He eventually became a youth leader for the Give a Kid a Dream boxing program, where he helped underprivileged inner city children foster discipline and a love for boxing. This program also spiked Tommy’s interest in business and management. Tommy is looking forward to using his time at Stern to deepen his understanding of the potential for social impact through business.” From the site ‘Poets and Quants for Undergrads’, Tommy is quoted as saying, “I was an overweight teenager and not in a financially stable environment, but as a sophomore in high school I decided to take action. I became interested in student government and began boxing, and I got involved with the ‘Give a Kid a Dream’ program, which is a nonprofit designed to provide mentorship to disadvantaged youths through the sport of boxing.” He was granted a full scholarship to NYU.
The fight card included seven boxers from Gleason’s, two from Washington D.C., and one from London.
Above: Rebecca Brown vs Ashley Williams, both of Gleason's with Rebecca taking the win. Below: Matthew Bogdanos of Gleasons vs John Ventrudo of Long Island Boxing. Bogdanos claimed the win. Photo Credit: Sal Acquista, httops://www.professorofboxingphotography.com/
Another success story of Gleason's 'Give a Kid a Dream' program is Yuri Foreman, the former NABF super welterweight Champion (2007) and WBA world super welterweight Champion (2009) who immigrated to the United States as a young man. Now an ordained Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, Foreman remains committed to giving back and improving the lives of others, having never forgotten the support he received from Gleason's owner, Bruce Silverglade, and the 'Give a Kid a Dream' program which helped support his training shortly after arriving in the United States. As quoted in the online publication, Moment Magazine, Silverglade had noted that, “We have a program we call Give a Kid a Dream, to help kids who want to learn to box and can’t afford to pay, so we helped Yuri. He proved himself right away. Many kids, they give you a story about what they want to do, but they’re all talk and no action. Yuri was serious about the sport. And that’s what makes a champion—self-motivation." (momentmag.com, Jan-Feb 2010).
We look forward to continuing to report on the success of the Gleason's 'Give a Kid a Dream' program in the future. To make a contribution, go to: https://fundrazr.com/e1tEf1?ref=fb_7AeV72_ab_4yyg3QeXvuc4yyg3QeXvuc