You read me, you know I stick to some of the same themes pretty regularly. One is that there are a lot of people doing a lot of good things in the sport, but that sort of stuff often goes unnoticed because shenanigans and hijinks and dirt and drama draws hits, and good news don’t.
Tough luck….If all of us capitulate, then all we will traffic in is muck and mire, and then what are we? Rhetorical question; then we are brutes who deserve a sad fate. So you will continue to get some leafy greens added to your diet; whether you choose to eat them, is on youse.
On Friday, I attended at Kingsway Gym on 28th St. in NYC a gathering which touted a new initiative, “Fight For Your Future,” which is a first-of-its kind pilot program which will provide educational, mentorship and career opportunities for professional and amateur boxers in New York State.
New York Athletic Commission chair Melvina Lathan has headed up the program, which is backed by The City University of NY (CUNY), and NYSAC, and USA Boxing Metropolitan Association and the Daily News Charities. Also, some financial heavy hitters, like Wall St. giant Norman Pessin, will be intrumental in marshaling considerable funding, which will help pave the way for some fighters to better plan for that eventuality, when it is time to hang up the gloves, and adapt to new modes in life.
Fighter Paul Williams (seen above in Michael Woods photo, on left, with Lathan), sitting tall and proud in a wheelchair, not letting a cycle accident get him down, looked on and heard Lathan share info on the nascent program. “With this program, fighters don’t have to give up one, fighting, for the other, education,” she said. She spoke of knowing that ideally, she wouldn’t be just responsible for oversight of pro boxing in NYC, of how she wanted to work on projects and initiatives like this one, things that would impact the uncertain future of so many fighters.
Here is how the initiative is described in their promotional material:
The initiative will allow participants the opportunity to continue their education by either obtaining a General Equivalency Diploma (GED), enrolling in a CUNY undergraduate or graduate program and to be awarded scholarships based on academic merit to help them graduate from a CUNY school. CUNY will administer the program, while NYSAC, USA Boxing Metro and the Daily News will assist in recruiting applicants from the State’s boxing community and help promote the program to their respective communities. Through this exciting new program, which is the first of its kind in the country, boxers will now have educational opportunities available to them that are much like those afforded to athletes in other sports.
To qualify for consideration for enrollment, boxers would have to meet the following criteria:
* Must be a resident of New York State
* Professional boxers must have a valid boxing license or Federal ID issued by the New York State Athletic Commission
* Must be active in the sport of boxing
* Amateur boxers must have a valid USA Boxing Passbook registered with Metro Boxing
Wisely, Lathan has found kindred spirits, people that recognize the worthiness of pugilism, a potent beacon which attracts countless lost souls destined to be human carnage, if not for finding a reason for being in the ring. The Bronx-born Pessin, who grew up immersed in the fight game when his mom got together with a man who promoted fights after her hubby, Norman’s dad, passed away. Pessin (seen in Michael Woods photo, below), who holds a massive stake in Nautilus, among other companies, will help bang the drums to attract funds so candidates will be furnished money to get more learned. He impressed me with a no-nonsense manner paired with an obvious ability to see capitalism as a positive means to an end, not merely the best vehicle to amass the largest bounty.
“The world of finance is a very dangerous place,” he told me. “It attracts all sorts, especially those with the skill to beat the game at any cost (by insider trading). The hardest part is to figure out the sociopathic personalities, like Bernie Madoff. Boxing has been seen by me as a great metaphor for the business I am in.
“When you get into the ring, be prepared to get hit, no matter how good your defense may be. The business interpretation–be prepared to lose money. Also, the punch you don’t see coming is the one that takes you out, and the business interpretation is, you should acquire the skills that allow you to see the impending disaster and secondly, to take the necessary evasive action. And, I have always been into the the counter-punching philosophy, and the business interpretation is: when they are selling we are buying and visa versa.”
Lathan is a consummate people person, one who uses a God-given ability to connect, and communicate true empathy, to enable connections and foster positive movements. This could well be her most potent professional legacy.
Interested parties, or those looking for more deets on CUNY’s “Fight for Your Future” program, contact CUNY Liaison Ed Rhodes at Ed.Rhodes@cunyedu