OSWEGO, NY â€“ A new boxing club in the Port City teaches youngsters the basics of the sport â€“ but also stresses the importance of a good education.
â€œI am doing this because this is how I got started. I joined a boxing club that required going to school and having good grades,â€ explained Derrick J. Falcetti, the owner of Riverside Boxing Club.
The hours are noon to 9 p.m.
He said his entire family is behind him, and he will have a board of directors in place soon, he added.
â€œI also have many youths involved already,â€ Falcetti said. â€œAfter the Second Ward meeting, I do feel there is a big need for a program like this.â€
The ward meeting, held at the Ponzi Rec Center at Fort Ontario Park, drew dozens of residents who complained about the behavior of teens in the neighborhood.
Falcetti believes his project can help alleviate that problem.
Heâ€™d like to be able to use an entire building, like the Ponzi Rec Center, he said.
Right now, the gym is located is a small portion of 157 E. First St. They have been in operation a little more than three months.
Grant Lewis and Kahlil Jones are a couple of youngsters taking part in the program at the gym.
What does Falcetti make them do?
â€œOur homework,â€ the kids replied.
â€œBig time, thatâ€™s right,â€ Falcetti added.
They are also learning the basics of boxing â€“ the mental as well as physical conditioning.
â€œI grew up with a program like this. I started when I was about 13, took up boxing when I was like eight and started actually going to a gym when I was 13,â€ Falcetti said.
He said he wants his gym to be the same â€“ a place for the kids to exercise and workout and be an educational center, too.
â€œWeâ€™re focusing on leadership and responsibility,â€ he said.
Besides honing their boxing skills, the kids said they also play football, ride skateboards and play video game among other activities.
â€œMy goal is to promote a sport I love that takes dedication,â€ Falcetti said. â€œIt is a sport that requires commitment. I am hoping that I can also have a positive affect on these kids as a â€˜big brotherâ€™ and teach them leadership and coach them to lead a better life along the way.â€
Two of his older students went to a competition recently in North Carolina and won.
Grant and Kahlil said they would like to compete someday as well. But for right now they are learning the basics of boxing as well as discipline and self control, they added.
â€œWe wonâ€™t let the kids get in the ring to compete unless they really know what they are doing,â€ Falcetti explained. â€œItâ€™s a mental thing, we let them know that this is whatâ€™s going to happen, youâ€™re going to get hit.â€
â€œBeing prepared starts here,â€ Kahlil said pointing to his head. â€œYou have to be ready and know what youâ€™re going to do before you get into a ring.â€
The fee for adults is $35 a month and for kids 16 and younger it is $20.
They are looking to get some sponsorships to help defray the costs.
â€œI know this program would entertain kids more. Not all kids, but more than what the rec center is doing now,â€ Falcetti said.
He said he has talked with one of the city police officers that were at the ward meeting and heâ€™s willing to help with the program, Falcetti said.
He has a couple more friends, including other police officers, who have also agreed to help as well, he added.
â€œThey are going to take some of the youths on jogs and help out in different ways as things move ahead,â€ he explained.
They are also forming a volunteer group to focus on the kids in the neighborhoods, those who are troubled or potentially in trouble, he said.
The program is still in progress of being developed.
â€œWe would like to get some city funding and donations to help get things going. In return we will do local cleanups of trash, can and bottle drives for a particular cause, assist elderly or handicapped people who can’t rake their yard, we will be there and happy to help,â€ he said.