2006. There is an offer, one I can’t refuse, “Can you come to the boxing gym? We need some more girls, and you’d be a good fit.”
11 years later, a few summers off and many winters on, it’s been a blessing. For one, there was something about the magic of this gym, the same place where Mike Tyson came up, Floyd Patterson trained, and Jose Torres entered. Forever in my heart, the little boxing gym that could, nestled in the Catskill Mountains.
Started by Cus D’Amato, the trainer who coached Mike Tyson, the gym still is a relic of its heydey; posters of the fighters and their coaches adorn the walls of the gym, for passersby to see.
The gym is a registered non-profit or historical site, and is managed by a board of directors. The coaches train their fighters for free, in good faith they’ll turn a profit later on, as they’re going pro.
But many of the fighters don’t make it past the amateurs, opting out for a career, family, and, sometimes, getting into trouble with the law, before making it as far as the professionals.
However, the gym is still a popular commodity, attracting tourists and trainers from near and far, nothing stops the best of boxers from entering its doors, which have been open since the day Cus D’Amato started the gym.
For me, it’s a home, a place where I spend most of my teenage years and early twenties, learning myself and the ‘peek-a-boo’ style of boxing Cus D’Amato’s famous for. I tried it, but boxing as a career is not for me. For me, it’s the art of the form, the spectator sport, and the vibrant community that embraces this gym. For now, I enter the gym as friend, and leave as a fighter.
photos by Shannon Reilly
photo of me and my trainer, Ernest Westbrooke