For over half a century, the Parks Department Historic Boxing Program at Lost Battalion Hall has been a staple health and recreation option in Queens. The first and only surviving Public Boxing training facility in NYC caters to low income residents and youths. As an alternative to the streets, boxing bolsters teen confidence and discipline, teaches sportsmanship and provides a healthful after-school exercise program. Now, it is slated for closure end of June.
Since the program costs approximately $5,000 a year to fund and has no memory of any injury that needed medical attention, its discontinuation has no financial or ethical foundation. This is especially since the parks department is lobbying for a questionably needed new basketball floor priced at $750,000.
At the same time, the general park memberships fees have doubled and the senior membership age raised to 65. And while the boxing program $50 yearly membership fee should create some surplus of its own, even if there were no profit, the advantage to the city’s youths outweighs any minimal costs. Furthermore, not only does the program cost the Queens facility little to run, but nothing to maintain as it has not been updated in years and most of the current equipment is donated or repaired by members. The time slot is limited to 4 nights a week and the program uses negligible space, the ring squeezed into a 3 cornered wall area of the basement.
Trainer and Professional Boxing Judge Tony Paolillo emphasizes, “Boxing builds character. It’s not just about getting into the Golden Gloves or the Empire State Games, trophy’s or medals. It’s about learning respect, hard work and dedication. These are attributes you keep a lifetime. I’ve had kids come back to me over the years talking about how the program saved them. The discipline helps with high school and college, ‘I’ll always remember this program,’ says one of my students who is now a dentist. The program helps a lot of kids.”
Trainer Steve Maiorano puts it, “It makes no sense to close the program. There was even some talk of Volleyball. What? Where? Half the time, the basement ceiling is too low for the ping pong players. And there are foundation pillars everywhere. Everybody here is respectful and gets along and there’s never been a problem. We have a multicultural group of kids that train together, help each other out, make friends, it’s been like this for over 50 years.”
Local politicians see the value of the program, agree that it merits saving and do not hesitate in giving their support. To include: Councilman Daniel Dromm, Senator Joseph Addabbo, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowely. (More to come in Follow-Up story)
As part of an effort to keep the program running, your support is appreciated. Letters and petitions can be mailed or Faxed to Councilman Daniel Dromm who will communicate with the parks commissioner:
Council Member Daniel Dromm
37-32 75th Street, 1st floor
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
Tel: (718) 803-6373
FAX: (718) 803-9832
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