By Jose Cuevas Syracuse, N.Y. — The West Area Athletic and Education Center has helped give kids from the inner city a positive outlet through the sport of boxing. The owner, Mr. Ray Rinaldi has a philosophy in training his boxers. “No du-rags, no having your pants low or to your ankles, and no swear words,” said Rinaldi.
“We don’t use the old system where you just come in and box, we have a classroom, we have computers, we help the kids develop as a complete person” said Rinaldi. The gym also has a classroom where GED classes are taught in partnership with the Syracuse City School District.
Rinaldi is so confident in his training philosophy, he’s willing to make this wager:
“If you go to the school across from here, Fowler High School I bet you I sent more kids to college than they did” said Rinaldi. “These are macho kids, or kids that are looking for something…they have no chance on the streets and we are able to reach them and help them” said Rinaldi.
Head Trainer Chris Burns says the mission of the gym is to give kids a way out. “We aim to keep kids off the street and give them a safe haven where they can learn the necessary character traits to excel in school and in life” said Burns.
Rinaldi believes the sport of boxing itself teaches the kids very valuable life lessons. “If you don’t keep your hands up you get hit, you put your hand down 200 times, you’re going to get hit 200 times” said Rinaldi.
“From the beginning you listen to the coach, you keep your hands up, and it carries on, now you hear your mom yell at you when you wouldn’t in the past, now if you don’t hear your name called out by the teacher in class you perk right up, you learn to listen” said Rinaldi.
The discipline the sport demands also helps. “They learn real quick that they can’t do bad things and be a good boxer at the same time because the sport won’t allow them to do it, you think you don’t need sleep, you do, think you can drink and do drugs, you can’t…the sport demands discipline” said Rinaldi.
The gym has produced many elite fighters. “In the past couple of years this gym alone produced 12 national champions, that’s unheard of” said Rinaldi.
Those champions include:
- Ramier Walker, 2017 National Champion
- Antwan Hunter, 2016 Junior Olympic National Champion
- Jaheim Hayes-Harlow, 2015 Junior Olympic National Champion
Antwan Hunter, says the gym got him ready to achieve all his goals “both coach Rinaldi and Burns are very good at boxing, they push me to do good…and they care about me” said Hunter.
This Saturday October 28th, The West Area Athletic and Education Center will be hosting a series of fights including some of their best fighters from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M. at the center on 307 S Geddes St. If you have any additional questions about the event you may contact the gym at (315) 295-0329 or on their facebook page.