New West Side Youth Boxing Facility Opens


Ryan Loyd – Texas Public Radio News


Kids may have been boxing on the city’s west side for years, but now a brand new building will provide a roof over their heads as they learn the lessons of life through the sport.

February 21, 2012 · As young boxers hit the punching bags, Jeff Usner puts in some time with 14-year-old Mario Reyna.

Usner contributed tens of thousands of dollars to help open the Charlie Mata Center, a youth program boxing and multi-use gym on the city’s west side, when he heard city funding would only cover so much.

“Teaching them about discipline, respect and honor. I think it’s really important. They’ve made a huge impact already in this community.”

And he’s right. Kids have been boxing here since 1999, when boxer Charlie Mata and his son, Jason, saw the need for the sport in the community.

“I know that we can do many good things for the community here and the kids. Really need people to come out and support us to volunteer, help us with donations, help us with partnerships,” says Jason.

That’s why people like Usner say money isn’t everything, especially when it comes to forging real relationships with children who need guidance and a go-to person in their lives.

“I remember I was working out with Mario, and there was a moment where he said, ‘Are you going to be back?’ Like, stopped boxing, we were in the middle of just kind of, he was hitting the gloves with me, and it’s like, that’s more important to this community. You need money, don’t get me wrong, but just a heart to serve and help, and I love kids.”

“I’m really thankful of that and think it’s pretty nice of them, and it keeps us out of trouble,” says Mario.

Mario says boxing is his favorite sport. He’s been coming out here for a long time, even when there was no building. All the program had to work with was dirt and an outdoor boxing ring.

“But the kids, they would still come, and it’s beautiful. This is going to help a lot of youngsters,” says Frances Cadena, president of the board of directors for the Advocates Social Services, home to the boxing program.

Cadena says, for years, the city overlooked the need for the center but she is proud of the work Councilman David Medina put into it.

-View the original article and listen to the audio report on Texas Public Radio


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