Giving Back to the Community – Undisputed Champions

Sometimes it’s the serendipitous things thrown in our paths that touch us the most deeply. I was asked to volunteer at Schott’s Boxing Gym in Albany yesterday. A class of young people was coming in and local pros Javy Martinez and Sarah Kuhn needed help showing the kids a few things. I had done this once before and knew it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The students are from the Capital Region’s Wildwood School, a service agency for youth with autism and learning disabilities. “Undisputed Champions” is the brainchild of Tom Schreck, the School’s Director of Communications and a professional boxing judge, Physical Education Teacher Rachel McDermott, and Martinez. They know that beyond boxing’s thin stereotypes are valuable lessons it can teach any youth, no matter who they are, lessons about discipline, respect, sportsmanship, and the power of believing in yourself.

If you don’t already know, Wildwood is a remarkable program. You should take a Schreck-led tour of the facility some time. The kids will touch your heart and the gifted, highly skilled staff will make you believers, but let’s get to the Undisputed Champions:

They come to Schott’s Gym ready, you’d better believe, and while they don’t actually box, they sure do everything else. But hold on, you say. Just how good an idea is it to remove young people from a program tailored to their special needs and thrust them into the demanding world of a boxing gym? Wouldn’t it be smarter to take them bowling, or to the park?

“Because of what we know about our kids,” said Schreck, “we guard against setting the bar too low and teaching to their level of disability. Every once in a while, it’s good to raise the bar. We can’t be afraid to get creative.”

So Schreck and Martinez talked and handed the idea to McDermott who, Schreck noted, “could organize the Normandy Invasion.” Any doubt as to whether it was going to work disappeared the moment the van arrived. Eyes lit up and young faces settled into a look of determination. A challenge was being placed before them and they were going to meet it, damn the torpedoes.

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Thank you for stopping by the Association of Boxing Commission’s new website. New officers were elected at the most recent ABC Conference Michael Mazzulli- President (Mohegan Tribe), Brian Dunn- 1st Vice President (Nebraska), Michael Kostrzewa- 2nd Vice President (Connecticut), Lydia Robertson- Treasurer (Arkansas), Joe Walsh- Secretary (Iowa). Please utilize its resources: the minimum standard rules or ABC documents or search for the Regulatory Body of each member Commission by clicking on the tab at the left labeled “Commission Contacts.”

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