Somerville Boxing Fight For Your Future.
- Derik DeAngelo
- Tom Gorman
Excuses are born out of fear. Eliminate your fear and there will be no excuses.
Dennis Willcox knows the value of good conditioning and the team environment. The Everett football coach and former Golden Gloves boxer has been involved in sports most of his life. Dennis grew up as part of the Somerville Boxing Club, and now he's hoping to pass on the benefits of boxing to the next generation-- including his own son.
Dennis spends much of his free time at the club, helping to train and condition the members and fighters that make up the club community. Three of the members are Dennis' own recruits- members of the Everett football team who come to the club as a way to keep their skills and physical fitness sharp. He sees the club as a great way to hone not only physical fitness, but discipline as well. "To show up every single day and work out in a boxing gym is not an easy thing," he says. "It's not like Bally's or LA Fitness, or getting on a treadmill."
The regimen of training and conditioning serves another, more important purpose. "Somerville is a tough city, and the surrounding cities, too." Dennis sees boxing as a way of giving kids focus and an expressive outlet for the pressures of life in the city. "I want to show them that boxing has been good to me, and it could be good to them also."
He sees as many rewards as the kids he trains. One of the best parts of the job, to his thinking: "The reward of playing a positive part in a kid's life," he says, looking toward the bustle of training and sparring going on in the background.
He believes the club is a place where you can come to change your life, no matter what your circumstances. It's also a place where you can experience a family environment, and a chance to be equals. He's experienced it firsthand. "Whether they went to Yale or they went to jail. We never turn our back on anyone. It the twenty-something years I've been coming here, they've never turned their back on me."
Norman "Stoney" Stone
Norman "Stoney" Stone
As the vibrant, passionate President of the SBC, Norman "Stoney" Stone is the embodiment of the club philosophy. The long-time professional trainer began his relationship with the club nearly forty years ago, volunteering, attending fights and fundraisers, and acting as a mentor for others. He has seen Somerville Boxing Club through moves, changes, and generations of promising talent and changed lives.
Stoney's youth, like that of many who pass through the doors of the SBC, was played out on some of the meaner streets of Somerville. The lifelong resident remembers life back in the day. "It was a rough town, Somerville," he remarks when asked of his upbringing. His own youth became one of hard habits; it wasn't until alcohol had taken a toll on his life, his family and his health that he walked into his first meeting, and began to change his life.
In the thirty-five years since that first meeting, Stoney has changed his own life, and many others. He rose to prominence coaching Heavyweight Champion John Ruiz from amateur status all the way to his 2001 victory against Evander Holyfield. Even so, his proudest success stories are those of the kids and adults he has trained and mentored over three decades at the club.
Stoney isn't merely a trainer. Because he's lived through many of the same circumstances as his mentees, he is there to provide whatever they need. Sometimes, it means lending an ear to someone with a problem. Other times, it means transportation to the club, or to a meeting. "We make sure everyone gets home safe. If someone can't afford cab fare, we'll make sure they get home. If someone needs something to eat, we'll send out for a few pizzas." Stoney's given homework help and life advice at least as often as he's given instruction on the perfect right jab.
Though Somerville has seen a boom in recent years, Stoney still sees the need for coaching, mentorship, and safe stomping grounds to keep kids off the streets. Mentoring kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol, and giving them an alternative to the temptations in the streets is as much a part of the club's mission. "I think the club is a great safety net for kids who have situations at home or at school. There's a lot of respect down here."
His flock of young trainers and boxers all has the same thing to say: "He's the best." His genuine love for the sport and concern for Somerville's youth is the cornerstone of the trust members have placed in him. Says one member of Stoney's support for the club, "He's like a father to everyone in here. He opens his door to any and everybody."
If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.
- Joey G
- JD Debski
- Keith Conway
- Jalam Garcia
If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
- Antonia Villa
- Isander Beauchamp
- Khiry Todd
- Rashidi Ellis
George is a Certified USA Boxing trainer who has worked with SBC for over five years, providing boxing instruction, conditioning tips, and mentorship to the club's growing membership. George was introduced to Stoney through friends, and quickly became part of club life.
"I'm here five days a week," he says of his time at the club, and he looks forward to every hour spent here. George came to the club during a difficult time in his life; The retired Postal Service employee and Vietnam veteran had recently lost his wife of XXX years. The club gave him a way to fill his time and do some good for the community. As it turned out, his introduction to boxing and mentorship was as good for him as it was for the youth and adult members he encountered. "I don't know where I'd be without this place," he says, thinking back on his early days as a member.
Though he'd had some experience boxing in the military, he hadn't boxed in years and had never before trained a fighter. Stoney gave him an early education in the basics of the ring, and from there George became a full-fledged trainer in his own right. He's now a licensed trainer with USA Boxing, but still values Stoney's input as much as when he first began his journey, "learning from the best."
George is looking forward to helping the next generation of trainers and boxers discover their potential in and out of the ring.
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
In the year that Richie Jones has been a member of Somerville Boxing Club, many facets of his life have undergone a transformation. The 28 year old boxer began his training at the YMCA Cambridge with his cousin and younger brother. After showing professional promise in the ring, he was introduced to Stoney with the hopes that the boxing veteran and mentor could take Richie all the way to pro.
Richie was not always on the trajectory toward success. Several run-ins with the law and association with gang activity landed Richie in juvenile detention. After a move introduced him to a different crowd, he left the gang life, but drug-related charges landed him in South Bay Correctional for two years. He realized then, it was time for a change.
Richie got out of South Bay, and dedicated his life to being better. He started boxing, and came to Somerville Boxing Club as a way to hone his skills, occupy his time, and improve his life overall. Boxing has greatly improved his health- he no longer drinks or smokes - but the real transformation has taken place in the way he interacts with the world around him. "I used to walk the streets and pick fights just to see if I could win them. It's ten times better to feel positive about yourself."
Now Richie is encouraging others to take the same path. He invites friends to the club, selling them on the low-pressure environment and friendly atmosphere in the club. "Want to come work out, want to get in shape?" He asks. So far, two friends have taken him up on the offer of free training, a safe place to hang, and the chance to learn more about the sweet science.
Richie's future has promise. While he's currently looking for work with the union, his real goal is clear. "I want to go pro.
What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.
Fran Hennessey has been a member of the Somerville Boxing Club for over three years. Introduced to Stoney through mutual friends, Fran came to the club looking to help others and make a difference in the lives of the kids who came to the club. "I love helping out the kids." Though Fran didn't come from a boxing background, he found many ways to contribute his time and enthusiasm to the club. In return, he found great friends, and the fulfillment that comes from giving back to the community.
"It's a great sport," he says of boxing, "and the best conditioning you can get." Though he wasn't a boxer when he started, it's all the same to the members of SBC. Fran's arrival at the club, like all members, is always met with a wave, a handshake, or an update on what's going on in the ring that day. "They've accepted me," he says, lighting up with a smile. "I've learned a lot here, and I help out where I can."
What impresses Fran most about life at the club is the effect it's having on members. "Some of the success stories- it's unbelievable the turnaround in some of our members." He immediately thinks of club member Anthony (link this). "Anthony was heavy, very insecure. He wouldn't look you in the eye. [Now] he's a gentleman. What a change in him. I think he's one of the best stories down here." Fran laughs, a big, proud guffaw, "Ask his mother! She loves that he comes down here. It's a way of life, and he doesn't miss a day."
- Danny J
- Orlando Maffucci
- Alex Rivera