Hempstead Boxing Club’s lessons beyond the ring

By Claudia Knutsson 

Heavy hitter James Belizaire, 21, was victorious on Saturday, Oct. 3rd at the Hempstead Boxing Club’s tri-annual night of boxing known as the “Fall Brawl.” Nearly 250 people gathered at Kennedy Memorial Park to watch James Belizaire, Marcos Paz and 28 other competitors boxed it out. Hempstead’s Boxing Club sponsors the tri-annual event to teach local at-risk kids the importance of discipline. The afterschool program is available for children 8 years and up.

Coach DC, the head coach and coordinator for Fall Brawl says, “I pay attention to whether or not the kids are doing well in school. If we find out the kids are fighting in the streets or at school, then they’re not allowed to attend the program.” After being at Hempstead Boxing Club since 2002, Coach DC has developed a strong passion for boxing and enjoys sharing his knowledge of the sport with victimized youth.

Coach DC always aims for Fall Brawl to be a family-friendly event. “I’m here today to support my son,” said the mother of Marcos Paz, Nancy Paz. “I try to keep him healthy – mentally and physically.”

Pressing her chest with pride for her son, she expressed her appreciation for the opportunities that the program continues to open up for children in need of positive role models.

“Our expectations are to put on a good show,” said Marcos Paz just before his fight with friend, Joe Zagarino, 20. “I love him because he’s my friend, but we have to go to work in that ring, it’s just part of the sport. I’m confident and I feel ready.”

This is 17-year-old Marcus Paz’s 24th competitive match. He spent three months training for this fight and has been boxing since the age of three. Paz says in addition to his years of training, while fighting he pulls strength from his Christian faith. He will be fighting again next week in the Metropolitan Tournament.

Events such as the Fall Brawl show that boxing is not just a sport for the purpose of entertainment, but also a source of education and enlightenment for children. Those given the opportunity to participate in this program are now able to use the skills while sharpening their determination, self-discipline, passion and focus in their everyday lives.