It all starts in the boxing gym. A kid comes off the street and connects with a trainer and if they click a champion is on the way. It has happened many times in this great sport and the champions and Hall of Famers tell their stories about that first day in the gym.
For many they go on and that dream does become a reality. Then there are those that are looking at boxing as that mental and physical approach. But at times they also take a shot at getting in the ring and test what it makes to become a potential champion.
However, boxing gyms are getting difficult to find. Because of the costs and dedication, many gyms in the inner city have shut their doors. The proud PAL programs, once a stepping stone in communities of New York, have seen their funding cycles go to a minimum and that hurts because many amateur champions learned. They would eventually turn to the professional ranks.
But all hope is not lost. There are those who won’t see the boxing gym in the inner city become extinct.
John Maresca, a boxing enthusiast and in the business had a goal. Open a gym in his nearby community of Carteret or Rahway New Jersey. It took some effort and his own financing and since May, Big Time Bouts is the newest boxing gym on the block in the town of Rahway.
“Our goal is to help these kids , Maresca says. :”Had a gym once before. The goal was to come back to New Jersey. People know we are back.”
And in that short span, since May, the goal was to get 50 members. The quota is almost there and more are walking in to try the craft. He trains most of the youngsters, and also has some support of experienced personnel that are certified and know the basics.
And it takes someone with knowledge of the sport to take on this burden, though this is one of self satisfaction and teaching the proper tools of the sport. The gym is situated on a street in the town of Rahway. A few minutes away is the Rahway Correctional facility,
Maresca, 49-years-old, a former school principal and from Carteret, is old school boxing and had a moderately successful boxing career starting at the age of 10. He resumed training for a brief time after gaining his college degree, but over the years the boxing business grew on him working as a matchmaker, adviser, manager, and trainer.
Recently, he concluded a successful run and assisted Mauricio Herrera a junior welterweight contender and champion. His association with promoters, managers, and others involved in the sport have all been good and of course that’s an ace in the whole with the debut of a new gym.
Mark Medal, a former champion from Jersey City is one of those supporters and comes from that neighborhood gym. In the 1980’s, when pro boxing shows were staged every other week at the Felt Forum, adjacent to the main Madison Square Garden arena, Medal built his record and was billed as the main event.
“This is what it’s all about,” Medal said at a recent fundraiser to benefit the gym. “It starts here and with the kids. I remember I was once there. John knows the business and how to do it right.”
Medal and Maresca built their relationship around the sport. They met and years later offer a similar opinion that boxing gyms are important for the community and serve a purpose. The gym is a foundation to build character, respect, discipline, and keeps kids off the streets as a safe haven.
The goal is to obtain some funding. Maresca has established some sponsors that assist the kids and they gain a mentor. Classes are also being conducted now with youth boxing clinics and martial arts.
And with the increasing popularity of boxing that has gained an appeal with females, there are classes also offered for that group. .All classes are at a reasonable cost and John Maresca is there to work with all and make proper payment arrangements.
“The only goal, it is a nice feeling,” says Maresca. “The goal is to mold a little adult and he’s a good citizen.” And for the sport of boxing, and for their community, this is a welcome addition.
Big Time Bouts is located at 236 Scott Street, Rahway, New Jersey. Call (732) 259-6241 for more details. Reach them also: www.BigTimeBouts.com
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