The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Community

February 2, 2014

Off the streets and into the ring

New boxing club hopes to help area children

FARRELL — Gregory, 32, a resident of Wheatland and graduate of Farrell High School, recently opened a Raw Boxing and Fitness Club at the Chavers Community Center in Farrell. One of his main focuses is the Raw Boxing Club; a boxing fitness club for boys and girls between the ages of 8 to 18.

“It is a great activity for after-school and as a stress reliever,” Gregory said. “I made bad choices as a juvenile and boxing showed me discipline, the importance of hard work, dedication and that no matter what you do – you have to work hard for it. The target is to help the local kids and keep them out of trouble.”

Gregory, a professional boxer, started training at the age of 14 and has made the sport of boxing his career and passion for the last 18 years.

The professional boxer said he grew up in Farrell and has tried to help the kids around the area in the past. Gregory believes boxing and fitness can be a safe  haven for the children of Farrell.

“Kids would see me in the neighborhood and ask me to do boxing and fitness programs again,” Gregory said. “I decided to partner with the YMCA at the center and open my own business. The Raw Boxing and Fitness Club is a nationally registered business. For kids to participate in the boxing program they have to be members of the YMCA. The Y does have financial aid, so this program is a possibility for all area kids.”

Around 7 p.m. Wednesday night several boys walked off of the cold streets and into the Chavers Community Center excited to train and learn the techniques of boxing during the 1è-hour training program taught by Gregory.

As they filtered into the boxing room, words of admiration and excitement echoed off the concrete walls.

“Hey Mr. Cliff what are we working on tonight,” hollered one enthusiastic participant, Portez Smith, 14, of Farrell.

Portez and his comrade, Brian Norris, 16, of Farrell, spoke highly of their teacher  as they made their way into the workout room complaining of being sore from their previous boxing session on Monday night.

“Just cause it hurts doesn’t mean you quit,” Gregory replied. “You will get through it and you will become better. You just have to remain dedicated guys.”

The boxing students listened intently as their role-model Mr. Cliff spoke.

“I wanna go all the way,” Portez said. “That’s what I want to do. I really like boxing and Mr.Cliff is a great teacher. I am going to be a professional boxer.”

One newcomer, Stephfon Mays, 16, of Farrell, said the club was recommended to him by a friend.

“This is my first time here. I am excited to try it out. My friend told me about it and I figured I would give it a shot. Everyone that I know who comes likes it,” Mays said.

Another student, Antonio Maxon, 15, of Farrell, has had the help of Mr. Cliff since he was young.

“He is my little cousin,” Gregory said. “I started working with him in 2008. He is a strong kid and has a lot of potential in the sport.”

Maxon said he loves working with his cousin, Mr. Cliff, and really enjoys coming to the boxing program.

As the boys stood in a circle to wrap their hands and prepare for the intense work-out, Gregory stood in the middle and spoke to them not only as a mentor but as an example.

“You all can do this. If you want to be a professional boxer, if you want to go somewhere you can. You just gotta put in the work. If you are willing to put in the work you can do anything. I believe in all of you,” Gregory said.

As he practiced his jab on a punching bag, Maxon, strayed from his focus looked up and said, “You know this gets me off the streets.”

He said that having the stability and outlet for his anger helps him behave and keeps him motivated.

“I have been boxing for four years,” Maxon said. “It has really helped me.”

The last segment of Wednesday night’s training was spent in the ring, while the students sparred with their trainer, Mr.Cliff.

The newcomer, Mays, stood in the corner stating he didn’t want to go front-and-center with his trainer.

“I don’t know what I am doing. I can’t do this,” Mays said.

Gregory responded, “You showed up tonight; you are standing there. You are capable of doing this. Everyone has got to learn.”

Slowly the two sparred and Gregory instructed Mays of the different beginner techniques. Once the bell rang, and Mays’ three minutes were up, he walked back to his corner of the ring with a smile on his face – realizing that he can do it.

For more information on Raw Boxing and Fitness or to find out about the different programs Gregory teaches email: rawboxingandfitness@yahoo.com or call 724-877-6928.

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