The tournament, hosted by Ray Rinaldi, a Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame inductee whose foundation created the North and West Area Athletic and Education Centers in Syracuse, brought eight boxing clubs from CNY, Pennsylvania and even Canada to the Sports Activity Center at the NYS Fair to battle it out in the ring.
Of those many contenders, Oswego Boxing Club fighting out of the Oswego YMCA brought two fighters to the ring, Andre Mendez and John Shatraw.
Mendez, 11, fought in the 85 pound weight class against an opponent out of Syracuse.
Shatraw, 29, fought in the 152 pound weight class against an opponent out of Allentown, Pa.
Both fighters were supported in their corner by OBC head trainer, Derek Falcetti who said bringing competitors to the NYS fair was a first for the program.
“Just to see the crowd here, it’s a great atmosphere for these guys. Syracuse is right in our back yard and we have a great relationship with the Syracuse team, so its like we are fighting right at home,” Falcetti said.
But perhaps with a slightly bigger crowd as a packed Sports Activity Center crowded spectators on all sides of the ring.
Ultimately, Mendez lost by split decision in the third round while Shatraw also lost in the third round by technical knock out.
“Both of them did a fantastic job,” Falcetti said. “We know there’s more work to do, we’ll be right back in the gym on Monday.”
Seeing the losses as nothing more than motivation was a common thread among the OBC team.
“This was a goal of mine, to box at the fair. It’s like any other fight but a little more exciting. The only thing to do now is work toward the next goal, fighting in the Golden Gloves championship. I tell everybody- follow OBC, we’re about to do big things,” Shatraw said.
And Falcetti confirmed, OBC is looking to make even more changes and bring some new opportunities to the Oswego community.
After beginning as its own business in November of 2013, OBC has since joined with the YMCA as one of its many programs.
Currently, the program yields anywhere from 40-60 participants with eight competitive fighters.
The program is welcome to anyone age seven and older and has both male and female classes.
Moving forward, Falcetti and the rest of the OBC and YMCA team have their sights set on a new education center at the Oswego YMCA to serve as an after school program for local youth.
With a tentative start date of October 1, Falcetti said the program will provide tutors from the YMCA, OBC members, as well as students from SUNY Oswego to help young students with their homework.
“There will be time to work on homework or get help with any schoolwork, and then we will roll right into the gym through a workout. We are really about instilling values in our youth; respect, discipline, punctuality, all the values to steer them down the right path,” Falcetti said.
In the meantime, the OBC team will also continue working toward its next fight event, September 24 in Watertown.
“Win, lose, or draw, we’re going home safe. I’m always proud of my guys,” Falcetti said.
Anyone interested in the OBC at the YMCA is invited to get more information at the Oswego YMCA located at 265 W. First St.