SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — For some police officers, protecting and serving during their daily shift isn’t enough.

Such is the case for patrolman Dean Fay, who in his spare time and with a shoestring budget works with at-risk youth to teach them boxing and the positive characteristics that come with it.

In May, Fay opened Central City Boxing & Barbell Inc. in the former Atlas Auto Body space at 1 Belmont Ave. The nonprofit gym offers boxing training to city youth but also encourages them to do well in school.

Young adults just want to be a part of something, Fay said.

“There’s incidents where we go to calls as police officers and see things no one should have to see,” said Fay, an 18-year veteran of the Springfield Police Department.

One incident pushed him to open the gym, he said.

“I took a call on Leyfred (Terrace), an 18-year-old kid got shot. I laid there and the kid bled out right in front of me,” he said. “This is an 18-year-old kid with his whole life ahead of him. Regardless of what people may think, this is an 18-year-old kid bleeding to death.”

Central City provides opportunities for boxing, weight training and overall athletic programs, both competitive and noncompetitive, which Fay said teaches values, discipline and ethics.

Fay, who is also executive director of the Western New England Golden Gloves boxing tournament, runs the gym with fellow coaches Stan Zimowski III and Dave Cupillo.

They are working to renovate the gym’s “homework room,” where participants come after school to do their homework with the assistance of volunteer tutors prior to training.

“We emphasize that winning begins in the classroom and through a comprehensive partnership with Springfield Public Schools; we hope to promote education as a key essential in overall victory,” said Fay.

Members are encouraged to further their education after high school while continuing their training goals.

Central City has partnered with the University of Massachusetts boxing program, which offers mentorships not only in boxing but also in the educational process. The gym has also partnered with the Westover Air Reserve Base boxing team to incorporate mentoring programs should members become interested in enlisting in the military.

“Central City Boxing & Barbell Inc. prides itself on being made up of all volunteers and has no paid staff,” Fay said. “All our volunteers do this work for the satisfaction of giving back to the community while providing opportunities for at-risk youth to better themselves, ultimately resulting in success for the area.”

Last year, Western New England Gold Gloves sent nine boxers to the National Tournament of Champions, and four of its team members qualified for Olympic trials. Six members of the team have turned professional, competing in nationally televised boxing events.

“I’m not in the market of building champion boxers, I’m in the market of building champion human beings,” said Fay.

Fay said many of his young boxers have nothing, come from generations of bad behavior and some don’t eat at night. His wife, Shari, makes a crockpot of food every night and volunteers donate jackets to the young adults at the gym who may not have one.

“You think you’re having a bad day? You’re not having a bad day; these kids have bad days,” Fay said.

Gym fees are $40 a month, but the team recognizes not every kid has that. There is a black box where participants can drop whatever they can afford.

Juniors, ages 12-17, practice from 4-6:30 p.m. and seniors, ages 18 and up, practice from 6-8:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and some Saturdays.

The gym currently has 20 members enrolled in the Youth Development Program and 30 members enrolled in the senior program. The team continues to take members on trips around New England not only to compete but also to explore opportunities. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority donated a 12-passenger bus for transportation needs.


Online: http://bit.ly/2lH16S1


Information from: The Springfield (Mass.) Republican, http://www.masslive.com/news/

Author photo
ANGELICA CORE
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.