From gangsta to champion

SU gallery highlights West Side Youths:

Jimmy Garcia grew up in the West Side as a gangster. Then he became a championship boxer at Syracuse Golden Gloves gym and now he is attending OCC. Last October, he participated in Passage: Latino Direction in CNY, an exhibit I produced about Latinos in Syracuse that was on display at Mundy Library, also in the West Side.

This spring, SU's Community Folk Art Center will exhibit Passage with Three Sisters as part of their youth program.

This interview with Garcia is included in the show, and I hope it can provide you with a real perspective about growing up in Syracuse:

AB: How do you react when people who call boxing a violent sport?

JG: Kids get put in hospitals for playing football. All you get is a bloody nose in boxing.

AB: Is it violent to you?

JG: No! After it's done, there are usually hugs and smiles.

AB: When you started out, was it the competition that kept you coming back?

JG: Yes, the competition.

AB: Were you self-motivated?

JG: Yes, nobody made me do a damn thing.

AB: How was it important as a source of discipline back then?

JG: Well, I went back to school after dropping out at 15

AB: You were banging in the West Side before boxing.

JG: I was with a bunch of clicks, stealing bikes and robbing people at night. I robbed two stores in my life.

AB: How old were you when you started ditching classes and hanging out on the streets?

JG: 14.

AB: Who did you hang with? What did they control?

JG: I had clicks that were into dealing drugs and partying on the weekends.

AB: What opportunities did you think you had then?

JG: I always saw myself in jail and preparing for it. I pictured the first person who come up to me I didn't know, I was gonna punch 'em dead in the mouth.

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