Monday, November 9, 2015

Five Atlas Cops and Kids Boxers in Olympic Trials

(Left to right: Nkosi, Nick, Coach Aureliano Sosa, Africa, Shu Shu)

The Atlas Cops and Kids boxing team had a stellar showing in Memphis this October at the US women’s Olympic Trials and men’s qualifying tournament. Four of our young men will advance to the men’s Olympic Trials in Reno, Nevada. 

Nick Scaturchio, 108 pounds, won a gold medal in his first tournament without headgear. His excellent defensive movement and fast hands led to three straight wins. Little Nikki, 17, commutes to our gym all the way from Hartsdale, New York, where he attends West Hill High School. He is proud of his Calabrese heritage, fighting under the ring nickname “The Italian Assassin.” 

Bruce "Shu Shu" Carrington, Jr, 132 pounds, won a silver medal in Memphis with a brave and elegant performance spanning six fights in six nights. Shu Shu, 18, is a proud native of Brownsville and a graduate of Teacher’s Prep High School. Last year, boxing took a back seat to grieving after the tragic death by gun violence of his brother Michael, but Shu Shu dug deep and refocused on training. He is a model of sportsmanship outside the ring, making friends everywhere he goes.

Richardson "Africa" Hitchins, 141 pounds, won a silver medal, fighting six times in six days in the deepest division of the tournament. “Africa,” 18, is a devoted student of boxing with a voracious hunger to learn and win. When he isn’t boxing himself, he assists trainer Aureliano Sosa in giving pads, and his voice is the loudest in the crowd, cheering on his teammates.

Nkosi "Big Black" Solomon, super heavyweight, won a silver in boxing’s showcase division. At 6’4” and 240 pounds, Nkosi is a gentle giant, eloquent and sensitive outside the ring. But he let out his beast in Memphis, thrilling the crowd with three hard-fought wars. Nkosi graduated from Sheepshead Bay High School, where he was a standout in football.

Christina Cruz, 112 pounds, took bronze at the women’s Trials, losing two very close fights to reigning world champion Marlen Esparza. Christina’s slick, technical boxing has converted many skeptics into fans of women’s boxing. She has won a record nine New York Daily News Golden Gloves titles, a world championships bronze, and was the first US woman to box in the Pan American Games. 

After the loss, Christina quoted Theodore Roosevelt: 

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Best Thing About Being a Boxer

My name is Nyisha Goodluck. I’m 21 years old, and I’m a female boxer from Atlas Cops & Kids. Almost every time when I’m on my way to the gym, strangers notice my equipment, and they always ask what’s my reason to be a fighter. 

For a long time I hung out with a lot of negative people who had little to no respect for anyone but themselves. I’ve never really fit into the “cool” groups, because I was way too shy and lacked confidence. One time the “bad guys” tried to belittle me, and I held my ground. They couldn’t beat me, so they apologized and kissed my butt until I finally agreed to be cool with them. We’d get into a lot of fights just off of bad rep, but we were all good kids dealing with our own troubles and insecurities. Being tough made me feel like an alpha; I’d fight if we pretend argued and the other person mentioned “yo’ mama.” Being tough even when I was nervous brought me a new confidence. I felt invincible. I fell in love with the feeling of being the better fighter before things even got real.

I found Cops & Kids through a friend who was an amateur boxer with his own gym. I walked into Cops & Kids with plans on staying in shape and sharp (as a Street Fighter) so that if I was tested on the block I’d be able to do damage. My first day training I met so many champs I knew that this was exactly where I wanted to be. I also realized how out of shape I was because after a day of training I puked all over the girls’ bathroom. I hated the feeling. 

The very next day I quit smoking cold turkey, and I stopped hanging out on the streets. Everything became work, gym, training. Sosa, Sarah, Quiro, and Wayne invested a year of their time building me into a real hard working fighter. 

Now I rarely hang out with my old crew, and I have never returned to my old habits. Every day I sit down when alone reflecting on everything I’ve been through in the past and thinking on where I want to be in the future. Becoming a pro fighter never crossed my mind until my coach Sarah set me up with some sparring with WBC champion Heather “The Heat” Hardy. Although I got my ass kicked, I found out my purpose. 

I won my first fight at a club show held by Gleasons Gym by a unanimous 3-0 decision. I was ready, and I didn’t really feel nervous. My mom was there, and I was more anxious and worried about looking good for her and a few supporters I had met randomly through social media. I almost had my first TKO, but my opponent Jalena Hay was extremely tough, and she fought through that beating. There was no question about it: She had earned my respect. When the referee held my hand up high and the crowd screamed in applause as if they’d known me for years, it was a feeling I wanted to embrace forever. It was completely indescribable but the best feeling in my whole life. 

As much as I enjoy the feeling of winning, being a champion is never solely based on being a winner. This was one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my amateur career. After a three-bout winning streak, I took my first loss to amateur boxer Andrea Tosto from Gleason’s Gym in the finals for the New York Boxing Tournament. I did not feel like she was the better fighter, but she outworked me and the judges were aware of that. I lost by a split decision, but I showed a tremendous amount of “good sportsmanship” and even asked to set up sparring in the future. I then took two more losses, one in the semifinals at the Ringside World Championships and another at a club show to an opponent whom I had already defeated. I became very discouraged and disappointed in myself. What I feared most was getting in the ring and losing again for the same reason: poor conditioning. 

I kept getting tired in the ring and outboxed, so I worked hard on the qualities and traits that make a boxer more effective in the ring day in and day out. I changed up my training routines. I took my strength and conditioning training to the next level. I sparred nearly every day and began running twice a day, and believe me when I mention that it took every ounce of power in me. Finally, my coach Sosa told me that it was time to get busy. I had previously been turning down fights he tried setting up for me. I dug down deep and told myself it was time. 

I had developed a new strand of confidence and took it with me into the Metro Championships. I faced the girl I had taken my first loss to and straight annihilated her. Of course, the referee made us shake hands after the bout. I tried to speak to her afterwards, and let’s just say she wasn’t as nice as I was when I first lost to her. It was then I had this strong moment of honesty with myself, and I realized God wanted me to experience those losses, because no champion is a champion if she can’t behave as one in both victory and defeat. The best thing about being a boxer is that you can never lose, you just learn.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Men Don't Cry

Meet Chiquito: puncher, poet, beautiful soul.

Chiquito found Atlas Cops and Kids through Coach Aureliano Sosa, who helped him take his aggressive boxing to the next level. Last year he won the Daily News Golden Gloves in the 132-pound novice class. He makes his professional debut soon in a ring near you.

More importantly, Chiquito won the battle of the books, graduating this year from Applied Communications in Queens. It wasn't easy; Chiquito isn't much of a bookworm, despite his excellence in verse. He got through high school on heart and ambition.

"There are only two things I'm afraid of," says Chiquito. "My mother and failure."

When Chiquito was seven, his mother left Puebla and came to the USA to make a better life for her family. It was five years before she was able to come back for her son. This prose poem recounts their meeting.

      Men Don't Cry 
      I'll never forget that day. The day I saw her again. It was in the airport. Terminal 2, Mexico City. After five years of missing her, she was finally there again. My mom, the woman who gave me life. She had come to America when I was almost seven years old, but she couldn't take me with her, so I had to stay. For five years, my family told me I had the saddest eyes. And now the day was here.
     I saw her from a distance, sitting on a bench waiting for me. There were three suitcases at her feet and she wore jeans and a black shirt. Suddenly she looked up, saw me, and a smile spread across her face. I slowly ran to her and pulled her body into mine. Tears came out of both our eyes, but as she wiped my tears and kissed me, she told me in a soft, loving tone, "No llores! Ya estoy aqui. Ya eres un hombre y los hombres no lloran." We were together again and I was already a man. "You are a man now and men don't cry."

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

How Boxing Changed My Life

Josh,  age 15

     I was with one of my friends from my old high school Clara Barton. We decided to  get high and then go to this boxing gym that he’d been telling me about because he saw that I had handwraps. So we went by one of my bro’s houses from my old neighborhood to buy some cannabis ( a.k.a “weed”) to smoke and reach a different state of mind. After we were as high as kites, we flew straight to the gym. Inside the gym, the atmosphere just felt so intense, almost to the point where it was overwhelming.

     Now, before this fateful day, everything was terrible. It all started late in my 9th grade year. In the ninth grade I was in the gifted program in Clara Barton, named the “Gateway Program.” Clara Barton High School is already known to have very difficult classes to pass and the gateway classes are twice as intricate. So to get in there and stay in there, you know I had to have been book smart. But that was as far as it went for my smarts, because close to the end of the school year I started to welcome the worse possible company: slackers. 

     The first time I smoked it was with a few of my slacker “friends.” To say the least, it was one of the best experiences I ever had; I just felt a burst of energy. I even thought I was teleporting. I was wondering where this miraculous plant had been my whole life. From the first joint I was hooked; by the last I was addicted. 

     From that day on, I smoked at least three days a week, slowly isolating myself from my gateway peers and quickly rolling over to the “cool side.” Not every experience with cannabis was as good as my first, but I continued to smoke it no matter if I had thrown up the previous time or not. Sometimes I would tell myself, “I'm done smoking, because last time was terrible,” but I just couldn't stop. This is when I realized I was basically addicted to cannabis.

     Sometimes I would tell myself that I smoked because of all the stress my dad put me under –– he always wanted to get in physical altercations with me –– and also to relieve myself from the stress from the tremendous amount of work in the Gateway Program, but that wasn’t really the case. I had just fallen under the influence and was looking for reasons to make me not feel guilty. 

     I started to lose motivation to do work and become a sloth. Never felt like doing anything besides smoking. I would make up any lie to tell my Father or stepmother so I could get a couple bucks, just for it to go up in smoke within a few minutes. I never was able to save for anything I wanted, because as I soon as I got money is as soon as it vanished.

     I would tell myself, “You have to make a change,” but for that whole summer I continued to smoke my brain cells to ashes.

     As 10th grade went on, I only invited more bad company in my life and more cannabis. I started failing two classes at one point, and the rest of the classes that I did pass, I passed with very mediocre grades. I started to skip school sometimes to go smoke with “friends.”  (I have since learned the real definition of friends is people who are going to help you get better, not drag you down.) Sometimes I would go in school super high, smelling like cannabis; as soon as I would enter my classroom, everyone would know I was high. 

     One time I was high in Spanish class when I felt something off about my body. I jumped up and dashed out of the classroom without permission. I tried to reach a bathroom, but as soon as I got in the staircase, I threw up just about everything I had eaten that morning. Continuing to run down the stairs, I threw up what I had eaten the previous day, and then one last time before I could even make it to the bathroom. Even treacherous experiences like this weren't enough to make me stop: I was addicted. 

     When I would go in school sober, most of the time I would have to help my “friends” fight the “opps” (opposition), which earned me suspension after suspension. Missing school due to suspensions was killing my grades, but I couldn't change my lifestyle, due to the weak mind I had. After each suspension, I had to watch my back every trip to class to make sure no one ran up behind me trying to knock me out. There was a brawl in Clara Barton High School not too long ago that led to the stabbing of two students, and I was part of this brawl. Despite knowing that one of my “friends” almost killed a student and blinded another, I still wasn't able to change my life.

     About two months after this tragic occurrence, one of my friends decided to take me to a boxing gym named Atlas Cops & Kids. Ever since the day I entered the gym I was changed. The first day I entered was the last day I smoked. 

     I don't feel as enticed to fight as I used to, because I know the damage that I can do to someone without even getting a scratch on me. I've been focusing on my schoolwork with no distractions besides boxing. Nowadays I don't have time to do anything but box and train my body, so that keeps me away from bad influences. Within four months of being in the gym, I was able to gain a decent physique, so I was no longer disgusted by how skinny I was. I was also finally able to save up money for things I wanted: boxing equipment, of course. 

     Throughout my life, many people would tell me I'm “destined to have a bright future” or “destined for greatness,” but my previous lifestyle was clouding those visions. Now with boxing I can see a silver lining in the darkness. From the first moment I stepped in the ring, nerves skyrocketing, it felt right. I sparred a third year boxer named Eli. He wasn't that dedicated to boxing, but after three years you're going to be a decent fighter. Throughout the first round, I was trying my best to hit him, but his head movement was too good. During the 30-second break, I had some time to catch myself up, so I'd be ready for the next round. In the second round, I probably landed about two or three punches, while he knocked my skull around like a bobble-head toy. That only encouraged me to hit him even more. In the third round I came in gasping for breath as I tried to land a few punches to give him a dose of his own medicine, but it was worse than the second round. Even though I didn't put on a great performance my first time in the ring and got a minor headache, I fell in love with the sport even more. That loss encouraged me to come to the gym even more and train until I could go in the ring and show Eli up.

     Now my motivation to box is past just wanting to beat Eli. I’m doing it because I love it. Doing it because it's what I'm best at, doing it because I want to make my mother proud to call me her son, doing it because I want to be able to take care of my family, doing it because I want to start a family of my own and take care of them. But, most of all, I do it because I know it's my calling. 

     I believe everyone on the planet has something they were born good at, but not everyone is able to discover it in time. I thank God that He introduced me to boxing at the time He did, because this is what I was born to do. I absolutely know it, no doubts in the back of my mind or the bottom of my heart. It saved me from going down the wrong path. My heart is the shape of a boxing glove and my brain is the shape of a fist.

     Although my life isn't optimum yet, it's headed there fast if I stick to what I do best: boxing. This is how boxing changed my life. I didn't speak much on my change, because I want the rest of the story to write itself. Because I am definitely going to be a big part of boxing’s future.

     My first day in the gym I was hooked; by the end of the week, I was addicted.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Golden Boys

This Wednesday at the Barclays Center six of our young people will step into the ring to fight for the Golden Gloves championships. Elijah and I caught up with them in between rounds to ask a few questions about boxing and life...

Name: Nick Scaturchio
Weight Class: 108 Novice
Record: 8-3
What's your style? I can box or brawl. It depends on the other fighter.
What do you know about your opponent, and what's the game plan? He stands straight up and likes to throw a lot of lazy jabs. I'll use lots of head movement, jab my way inside and switch it up to the head and body.
What do you do when you're not boxing? A lot of schoolwork. I also like to study classic tapes of old fashioned fighters like Pernell Whitaker and Roberto Duran: I take things from them and put them in my style.
Who is your favorite fighter of all time? Arturo Gatti.
What is something surprising about you that not too many people know? I had an osteoid osteoma, which is a benign bone tumor. It took two years off my boxing career. Coming back after that was really hard and required a lot of physical therapy and strength training. It actually made me realize how strong I am.

 Bruce "Shu Shu" Carrington, Jr.
Weight Class: 123 Open
Record: 59-10
What's your style? Boxer/puncher
What do you know about your opponent, and what's the game plan? He's a southpaw. I heard he's pretty strong. He's not as fast as me, but he comes to fight and he's pretty tough. The first round I'm going to feel him out. The second round I'm going to turn up my aggression. The third I'm going to make sure I dominate.
What do you do when you're not boxing? Homework.
Who is your favorite fighter of all time? Floyd Mayweather
What is something surprising about you that not too many people know? I have a hidden anger inside of me.

 Alvaro "Chiquito" Roman Flores
Weight Class: 132 Novice
Record: 10-0
What's your style? Puncher
What do you know about your opponent, and what's the game plan? He's 26 years old from Queens. He's a boxer. Starting from the first round I'm going to put pressure and go to the body, mixing it up with uppercuts.
What do you do when you're not boxing? Listen to music. I don't really have free time. I'm always busy.
Who is your favorite fighter of all time? Juan Manuel Marquez. Everybody says I look and fight like Fernando Vargas and I agree.
What is something surprising about you that not too many people know? I'm really sensitive outside the gym. I'm not rough. I'm a woman lover.

 Richardson "Africa" Hitchins
Weight Class: 141 Open
Record: 60-12
What's your style? Boxer
What do you know about your opponent, and what's the game plan? He throws a lot of punches and he's sloppy. I'ma use my feet smart and box him.
What do you do when you're not boxing? School and boxing, that's it. And I play a lot of Fight Night.
Who is your favorite fighter of all time? Floyd Mayweather
What is something surprising about you that not too many people know? I don't know. All I know is boxing.

 Omar Salem
Weight Class: 152 Novice
Record: 10-2
What's your style? Boxer
What do you know about your opponent, and what's the game plan? He's big, strong, and keeps coming forward. I'm going to box him, counter him all the time, and keep my jab in his face. I got to be like Floyd.
What do you do when you're not boxing? I play ball. I love basketball.
Who is your favorite fighter of all time? Andre Ward
What is something surprising about you that not too many people know? I can dunk.

 Nkosi "Big Black" Solomon
Weight Class: Super heavyweight open
Record: Prefers not to answer
What's your style? Boxer/puncher. I fight like a big guy but I try to have the agility of a small guy.
What do you know about your opponent, and what's the game plan? All I know is that he has two arms, two legs, and a head and that I'm ready to go.
What do you do when you're not boxing? I hang with my friends and play video games with my nieces and nephews.
Who is your favorite fighter of all time? Of the recent era, Floyd Mayweather. Of all time, Sugar Ray Leonard.
What is something surprising about you that not too many people know? I'm shy. I may come off as a happy person, but that's just a front I put on. Not too many people know the real me.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Mongoose Creed

Bruce "Shu Shu" Carrington will fight for the 123-pound open title next week at the Barclays Center. He's also applying for the George Horowitz scholarship to further his education. Sometimes I have to help our boxers quite a lot with essays, but Shu Shu sat down at my laptop and banged this out like a newspaper man on a deadline:

I started boxing at the age of 7. As a young kid, I always wanted to play basketball. Boxing was never on my mind. But the main reason why I started the sweet science was because I was being bullied as a child from older 5th graders while I was in 2nd grade. Although I was a small kid, I was a natural talent at defending myself because I grew up in a rough tough neighborhood. My father saw that as an advantage and asked me if I wanted to box and I agreed. 

Starrett City Boxing Club was under a garage named Hornell Loop. Before I walked through the doors, I heard the sounds of the boxers yelling and grunting as they were punching the heavy bag and the constant loud beat of the speed bag. As I walked through the doors, I was nervous because I didn’t know much about boxing and I was looking to impress all of the coaches and boxers there. I started working out on the punching bag and I fell in love with it. At that moment, my heart transformed into the shape of a boxing glove. Boxing means everything to me. It’s my life. 

As I began to learn more about boxing, it taught me how to discipline myself and channel my emotions. If I ever ran into an altercation with someone, I was disciplined enough to know that fighting wasn’t going to resolve the problem and it was just a waste of time. All I did was compromise with them and walk away and since I have started boxing I have never had another street fight. If I was ever angry with something that was going on in my life, I had boxing to let all of my anger out. The boxing gym is like my temple of peace. 

Boxing also taught me to appreciate the life that I live. Being that I travel around the country to compete in different tournaments, I get to experience life outside of New York. I travel to California, Alabama, Las Vegas and many other places. I meet different people all around the country, sometimes even celebrities if I get lucky. I always make new friends when I travel. Even my opponents that I compete with become my friends because boxing is all about respect. I also love the feeling of winning a nation-wide tournament because that boosts my confidence.

I’ve always balanced education and boxing despite all of the boxing demands that come my way. Education has always been first because it would give me pride to be the first high school and college graduate out of my family. Education will also open many doors of opportunity for me such as well-paying jobs. My goal in college is to study sports management. I always wanted to do sports management because I want to be able to manage myself when I become a professional boxer. I don’t want to be taken advantage of by other managers when I become professional. I want to be known as the greatest athlete to ever step foot in the ring, not the best boxer, but the best athlete. I also would like to give back to my community and maybe build a recreation center that will help kids the way that I’ve been helped by the Atlas Cops N Kids gym in Flatbush.

Boxing will help me get my family out of the living conditions that we are in. Being that my brother died a few months ago through gun violence, I want to be able to live in a community that I feel more comfortable in. The Brownsville section of Brooklyn is a tough neighborhood to grow up in. Although it may have its flaws, Brownsville made me into the type of person I am today. I take the negative in the community and turn it into a positive. Plus, Brownsville isn’t all bad. The people there show a lot of support and take pride in the people that do positive things. When I fight, my mom sometimes shouts “ Brownsville, Brownsville” because this small neighborhood is known to have produced multiple world boxing champions such as Zabdiel Judah, Mike Tyson, Riddick Bowe, Al “Bummy” Davis, Eddie Mustafa Muhammed, Shannon Briggs, and Daniel Jacobs. Being that there are so many champions that come out of this small neighborhood, I feel like I have to live up to the Brownsville name. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

In Love With Reading

Today's post is by boxer Terrence Placide, a student at Laguardia Community College. 

A few months ago, my girlfriend Savana and I started reading books daily. She’s a wonderful, inspiring girlfriend who motivates me to achieve my goals. We were having a slight difficulty about which book or inspirational novel to read every month. How are we going to switch from our fundamental reading to our Christianity reading? At first we created an idea. The idea was, each month we alternate. For example, I would read a book called “Inside Rikers” then, once I finished that, I would alternate to a Christianity book. The one I’m currently reading is called “Jesus is__.”

Now we both don’t have to stress the idea of favoritism in a particular area. Here’s a little brief about Inside Rikers. This book took my mind to another level. It illustrates how inmates indulge themselves in criminal activities such as drug possession, weapon charges, assault, and robbery. The part that was juicy like a 12-year-old eating a watermelon was that every time an inmate would be released from incarceration he/she would find a way back into the system, the reason being that they were not adapting to non-prison life.

When I was reading the Christianity book, I was trying to find the answer to what “Jesus Is__.” At first I was frustrated due to the fact that there were so many words that were implemented. For instance, Jesus is salvation, Jesus is our savior. But as I read on, I figured out that Jesus was grace. The author shared many scenarios about why Jesus was a savior. For example, a husband and a wife hated each other for no particular reason. People would ask why they hated each other, always arguing, fighting, fussing. Even when their youngest daughter would try to have good quality time with the family, it seemed like nothing was working. A pastor had a brief conversation with the spouses, telling them to open their hearts to Jesus, seek a relationship with him, and see what He can bless them with. Both spouses tried opening up to Jesus – as we call it “Building a relationship with Jesus” – and a few months later their marriage was peaceful and happy.

Since Savana and I started reading together, we developed a strong vocabulary and know how to differentiate between “street talking” and “formal talking.”

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black History

Every month is black history month at Atlas Cops and Kids.

This is Eric Warren with Coach Aureliano Sosa and Christopher Colbert after Eric's first win, by stoppage, in the NY Daily News Golden Gloves. He fights again tonight. Eric is also an NYPD police officer with the 67th precinct and the father of beautiful baby Elle.

Here's a fun expression in French: le violin d'Ingres. This means Ingres's violin. Ingres was a great painter famous for his oil portraits of rich people in fancy gowns.

But Ingres was also a really, really good violinist. So good that he could have gone pro at the violin if he hadn't had that famous painting career to deal with.

We say that something is a person's violin d'Ingres if it is a hidden talent of surprising strength. My violin d'Ingres is cooking. Eric's is poetry. Earl "Flash" Newman's is piano. What's yours?


As a black man I'm cursed.
Cursed because of the negativity that
Surrounds my race
And the color in my face,
Cursed because Malcolm, Martin, and Marcus
Became great names.
Cursed because it seems every strong
Black man is bound to be slain.
Cursed because Kutakente refused his 
Slave name.

As a black man I struggle.
Struggle to prove that those who
Choose can do right
Despite the color of their skin,
That there's a good man behind this
Dark tan,
That all black households are not
Fatherless within,
That as a black culture we are full of successful men,
From Lewis H Latimer to George Washington Carver
Even Tupac had a long list of followers.

As a black man I'm blessed,
Blessed to be free.
Free because of the blood of the 
Black men who died for me,
Whipped, shot, and hung
So that they couldn't see
The blood they bled led me to be free.
Men I'll never get a chance to meet,
To thank and praise for my right to be free.
And so they're why I'm cursed,
And they're why I'm free,
And I'm thankful for every blessing and curse 
Bestowed upon me

As a Black man