Somerville Boxing Fight For Your Future.
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."
- Alex Rivera
- Andrew Rivera
Excuses are born out of fear. Eliminate your fear and there will be no excuses.
- JD Debski
- Keith Conway
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.
- Khiry Todd
It is never too late to be what you might have been.
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.
What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.
- Rashidi Ellis
- Nicki "Smiles" Colecca
- Antonia Villa
- Isander Beauchamp
Believe you can and you’re halfway there.
- Danny J
- Joey G
Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.
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.
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."
- 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."