Let's Get Ready To Box

The 2008 New York State Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions drew fighters from across the state last weekend to the Fair grounds, where amateur boxers battled for a spot at the National Golden Gloves tournament in May.

Around 100 boxers, ranging in age from 12 to 34, competed in the two-day tournament.

The tournament was sponsored by Syracuse Golden Gloves Athletic and Education Center at 307 Geddes St. and the North Area Athletic and Education Center at 507 Pond St.

Ray Rinaldi, executive director of both centers, uses boxing as a means to improving the lifestyles of young men and women.

The boxing program is the hook to be able to keep kids coming to the center, Rinaldi said.

He sees boxing as a vehicle for teaching discipline, impulse control, communication and perseverance.

Syracuse resident Ron Bugnacki went to the tournament because he enjoys watching boxing, and also wanted to support the local program. Bugnacki believes athletics are key to children's development, and that learning to enjoy a game while young can give a lifetime of enjoyment.

He feels it is important to support athletic clubs likethe Syracuse Athletic and Education Centers because of a lack of emphasis on learning sports in today's public schools.

Bugnacki pointed out that although boxing focuses on the individual fighters, there is also a sense of teamwork in the way coaches, trainers and athletes work together and

become a family outside the ring.

For Sandy Watson, boxing is a family affair in another way. Watson, of Central Square, meets up with her sons Scott, 21, and Jordan, 17, every day at the West Side gym, where they work out and train together.

It's the ultimate workout, said Watson.

She said the biggest impact she has seen boxing have on her sons and others who train is that they learn to respect themselves and each other.

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