June 13th, 2012
Newburgh Boxing Club has new home
Terrence Thomas, a former professional boxer and an active volunteer at the Newburgh Boxing Club, trains his eight-year-old son, Terrence Thomas II, at the Clubs’ new location at 290 Broadway in the City of Newburgh, NY.
Newburgh - Boxing is much more than a sport to Ray Rivera.
The City of Newburgh resident has seen firsthand the consequences of undirected anger and senseless violence. Losing his oldest son on the streets of New York City in 1998 when he got tangled up in a fatal fight over a girl, Rivera realized the salvation boxing can offer youth.
“I’m afraid if boxing isn’t there, something will happen to these kids,” said Rivera, a former amateur boxer with 86 bouts to his credit. Rivera has done everything in his power to ensure there are other alternatives. Most recently, in February, 2012, he reopened his Newburgh Boxing Club doors. This time, at its new location, 290 Broadway. Featuring an Amateur Sanctioned Junior Fighting Ring with 20 x 20 feet dimensions, the facility further sports 6 heavy bags, 6 speed bags and 4 Double N Bags. Locker rooms and a shower area round out the impressive offerings. Right next door, at the Center of Hope, students can seek homework help during the school week.
The road to Rivera’s securing his new facility has been a fight in and of itself. Formerly located on 186 Washington Street (a larger space than the present one), the Newburgh Boxing Club officially first opened its doors in the summer of 2000. Rivera faced an immediate obstacle when his business partner faced jail time for personal issues. Rivera immediately stepped up and took over full ownership, a spot he has not surrendered since. Before long, the Club, with Rivera’s perseverance, experienced great success, while producing a number of nationally acclaimed fighters, including Luis Delvalle, along with Newburgh’s TreSean Wiggins and Jamie Estrada, Jr. However, a new challenge surfaced when Rivera’s landlord was negligent on paying his taxes. Again, Rivera fought, purchasing the space from his landlord. However, after making diligent attempts to upgrade the facility, Rivera found himself in $96,700 debt. Eventually forced to do a quick sale in July, 2011, he managed to clear the entire debt and even have some monies left over. The roller coaster ride was about to come to an end.
Luck struck toward the end of last year. Citing a vacant sign posted by Real Management in the 290 Broadway window, Rivera jumped on the attractive location. The next day the spot was cleared out, and within three short months the new Newburgh Boxing Club was in business, seven months after its Washington Street closure. In fact, the owner of Real Management, Vincent Cappelletti, took on the role of Vice President. A frequent face at the Club, Cappelletti greets, views and encourages the close to 80 members, more than half youth.
“These kids come in and do their thing; no one is making them do anything,” said Cappeletti, as he watched a member intensely go through his drills. “They want to do it and become better and better at it.”
That Club routine most members follow three times a week includes a punching barrage on each of the 16 bags. For two and a half minutes, when the gyms’ light turns green, boxers let loose an ensemble of blistering punches. A 30 second warning interval, incited by a yellow light, follows. Finally, the onset of the red signifies the much earned one minute rest period. In total, close to 90 minutes of intense exercise transpires.
“It’s the longest three minutes of your life,” explained Rachel Stahl, one of four female members and a New York City police officer who resides in the City of Newburgh. “I wanted to find something that helped me with my job; I really enjoy the discipline and focus of boxing, as it works every muscle of your body.”
That boxing bug has not only been caught by females, but the very young. Eight-year-old Terrence Thomas II has been around boxing gyms his entire life, literally! Propped up in his baby stroller, he would observe his father, ex-professional boxer and now avid Club volunteer, Terrence Thomas. The informal lessons paid off - the younger Thomas recently earned his first tournament victory.
“I’ve been boxing since I could count to three,” said Thomas II, preparing for a sparring session with dad. “Boxing is my favorite sport; I love to win.”
All that is available for a monthly fee, along with one time payment for the required USA Amateur Boxing Pass Book. No potential member will be turned away due to low funds.
“If they can’t afford it, we will help them out,” affirmed Rivera.
In a place where many have very little (the Club, aside from the secretary, is entirely run by volunteers and donations), dreams and desires are the remaining driving fuel.
“No matter how many obstacles I ran into to get the gym open, I faced them,” said Rivera. “The love for the sport always kept me going.”
If you want to find out more information about or make a monetary gift to the Newburgh Boxing Club, you can reach them at (845) 565-7980.