Somerville Boxing Fight For Your Future.
- Andrew Rivera
- Matt Difraia
- Jalam Garcia
It always seems impossible until it’s done.
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."
- Mike Feeney
- Antonia Villa
- Cully Curran
- Rashidi Ellis
Excuses are born out of fear. Eliminate your fear and there will be no excuses.
- Mazac Gambardella
- JD Debski
A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.
- Joey G
Believe you can and you’re halfway there.
- Tom Gorman
- Perez Campusano
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."
- Keith Conway
Do. Or do not. There is no try.
A longtime boxing enthusiast and active club member, boxing for Darren is a way of life, and a family affair. "My whole family does it." His cousin, a pro boxer, is training for a fight in Puerto Rico at the time of interview. The excitement for Darren comes from both his family history in the ring, and his love for the club that has fostered his talent and given him a place to train, pitch in, and decompress.
"It's a place you can go to let go of some steam," He says. " I've been around boxing for a long time. I wouldn't know life without boxing." Both a member and a volunteer, Darren sees the potential for both the sport and the club to change young lives. "It brings kids a way to channel their energy into something positive. It teaches them discipline too. It's a place where you can grow." He stresses that, no matter what members are looking for, they can find their comfort zone here. Whether just training and conditioning for health, or to hone their skills for bouts in the ring, you'll find the right atmosphere and training here. "You can come and train and get some fights if you're interested in fighting." Even for those not drawn to the boxing ring, the conditioning, the positive environment, and support provided by SBC make it a great avenue for kids and adults looking to make positive change in their health and their daily lives.
As for Darren, he has his eye on the prize. A former New England Golden Gloves champion, he's eager to get back in the ring after taking a year off for other pursuits. "I want to get a title under my belt, and this is the place to do it. It's changing a lot of people's lives."
Matt Mahoney is a familiar face in Somerville Boxing Club. A lifelong resident of Somerville and Melrose, he started coming to the club when he was only sixteen years old. His father encouraged the young man to come down and train. Like Matt, he knew the value of raising a kid who could handle himself, in or out of the ring. "Sometimes parents are hesitant to get their kids into boxing or any contact sport. The secret is, once you know how to fight, no one wants to fight you," he says with a smile.
In his nearly thirty year relationship with the club, he's seen transformations great and small-- a success he credits to the vibe at the club. "There's no judgment. A lot of boxing gyms are intimidating, especially if you're new. This gym isn't like that." He said of the sport, "It's huge confidence builder." He's seen the burst of confidence in action with members.
The former competitive boxer and lifelong club member is now beginning to help the next generation of trainers and boxers, getting working toward his Cornerman's license so he can be ringside as SBC competitors lace up the gloves at book fights and sparring events. Until then, Matt is just happy to train, hold the mitts for a fellow boxer, and chip in any way he can.
James has been a member of SBC for a little over a year, joining to get in better shape and to create new, healthy routines for himself as a foundation for his recovery. The 25 year old, South Medford native first tried boxing as a kid. He then played football in highschool, but some unfortunate choices began to sidetrack his success. Now, with the environment and training available at the club, he's proud of the progress he's made both in and out of the ring.
James currently has four amateur fights to his credit, and he's looking forward to adding more in the future. In addition to spending time at the club, he's giving back to his community and giving others the information and insight they need to make good choices in their lives. He's added public speaking to his list of accomplishments, including speaking with students as part of the grassroots organization Medford Overcoming Addiction.
For those in recovery or yet to enter recovery, James encourages routine, exercise, and social activity- all components of his own foundation for recovery, and needs amply met by the Somerville Boxing Club. "It's great for stability," he says of the routine of hitting the gym and the development involved in becoming a boxer. "If you have anger issues, or addiction- it keeps your mind focused on one thing."
Now James is focusing his own life on the future, including getting back to full-time employment, more success in the boxing ring, and the added success of helping others overcome their struggles.