Hudson Valley Parent

HVP January 2015

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Page 29 of 40 ■ Hudson Valley Parent 29 more kids. A few of the kids that Rivera has trained in the club's 15 year his- tory have turned pro, and as their manager Rivera shares in their success. His share of the winnings are funneled straight back into the Newburgh Boxing Club. It's one of the only sources of revenue the club has. Rivera asks that all club members pay a modest monthly membership fee, but the irony is that the kids who most depend on the club are the ones least likely to afford it. So Rivera doesn't push the issue. Kids who can pay, pay. Those who can't, don't. Rivera only turns people away if he thinks they want to learn how to fi ght so that they can cause trou- ble, instead of helping themselves to stay out of it. Lack of funding The lack of steady funds coming in means that the club's future is constantly in doubt. Sometimes the phone is in service and sometimes it isn't. Sometimes the club is open when it's supposed to be and some- times it isn't. The space itself is donated; The club doesn't pay a dime in rent. Rivera is up front about the fact that without such generosity, the club wouldn't exist at all. But the phone company and power company can't be expected to be as altruistic as his landlord. In the club's 15 year history, including the club's 12 years at its previous location on Washington Street, there have been a few ex- tended funding droughts that have led to short term closures, leaving the kids at the mercy of the streets. As a consequence, some of those kids ended up in jail or the hospital — or worse. Rivera works odd construction jobs when he can get them. Any- thing to keep the heat on, the doors open and the kids in the ring. As a nonprofi t entity, Newburgh Boxing Club is eligible for tax-deductible donations and grants, but Rivera has neither the time, manpower or expertise needed to navigate the complicated world of institutional funding and attracting big donors. So construction it is, even if a full day's work building things for some- one else drains him of the energy he needs to help the kids at Newburgh Boxing Club rebuild their lives. Or so he claims. "I'm doin' nothing here today, man," he says as he slumps down in a folding metal chair ringside. "I just got off work and I'm tired." Fifteen seconds later he is back on his feet, yelling out instructions to one boxer in Spanish, to another in English, then across the ring for a pep talk to a third teenager. Rivera admits later that for all his guidance, in the end it's up to the kids themselves. "I give them the opportunity," he said. "If they don't take advantage of it, what can you do? Once they turn 18, 19, they're grown men. They do what they want to do." Still, even with bills piling up and some kids who turn away from the club and into the arms of the local gangs, Rivera and his volunteer trainers keep at, six days a week. There's always the next kid who needs a place to go. Another pro fi ghter waiting to be discovered, to be given that chance. "We got a 6-year-old who comes in here," says Rivera with a smile, "and he's determined to do it. So we work with him. Every 10 years, there's one like that. A kid who walks through the door who's deter- mined to make it no matter what. I think that's him." And with that he turns back to the ring, barking out encouragement in Spanish, his voice drowning out the sounds of punching bags, of feet shuffl ing in the ring, and the sirens outside. Brian PJ Cronin is a freelance writer living with his family in Beacon. Artists and boxers: An art show to raise funds Martha Zola and Vincent Cap- pelletti are two friends who share a common interest in reviving Newburgh's Broadway. Zola is an artist, and Cappelletti is the real estate developer who donated the space that the Newburgh Boxing Club currently occupies. After taking Cappelletti along with her during one of her visits to the club, she mentioned the club's perpetual funds shortage. "So we're chatting and I said why don't we try a benefi t?" re- called Zola. "And one of the things I admire about Vinny is that he says yes to everything." On January 24th from 5 to 7:30 pm, seven of Newburgh's top artists will come together to mount a show at the Boxing Club gym in support of its mission. The artists include Clayton Bu- chanan, Isaac Diggs, Erika Hauser, Bruno Krauchthaler, Rachel Weid- kam, and Martha Zola. Decora and Baam Bada will DJ music for the event. The public is urged to come to the gym and view the show in support of the club, its mission, and the artists and to consider pur- chasing art or making a donation. Fifty percent of all sales will be donated by the artists to the boxing club. "None of us are boxers," said Zola, "but the kids are boxers and this is where they want to be. They're not on the streets, they're not in danger, and they have a social commitment. Not all of them want to become professional boxers, but all of them have said it's made them more comfortable at home, in school, and in their lives." The boxing club is located on the east side of the building at 290 Broadway. For more information, email

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