February 27, 2010

Boxing program helps keep youths out of trouble

Friend of the delinquent boy - the original motto of Optimist International - came to mind last night I watched a fantastic display of athletics, training, sportsmanship and mentoring at the Idaho Silver Belt Invitational Boxing Tournament presented by the Caldwell Optimist Club. 

There were 22 bouts with boxers weighing anywhere from 70 lbs. to 185 lbs. and up to 18 years of age.  Most were young boys, but four girls competed in 2 bouts.  All were fun to watch. 

The Caldwell Optimist Club adopted the PAL (Police Activities League) Boxing program about 20 years ago when they decided to build a boxing ring for the program.  Trainer Manny Alvarez has been with the program since its inception.  According to Manny, he teaches his players they must first be good at home, then school and then they can box.  Some say the program has kept many kids out of trouble and away from gangs and crime. 

The Idaho Silver Belt Invitational drew teams from Boxing Clubs in Nevada, Utah, Montana, Oregon and Idaho.  It is sanctioned by the US Boxing Association.  Retired professional boxers Kenny Keene, Cleveland Corder and former Olympic boxer Jack Egan were their to show their support.  About 500 people attended the event. 

Caldwell Optimist Club President Larry Blackburn says the event was so successful they hope to expand to two days in 2011.  I know I plan to be there to show my support of how the Caldwell Optimist Club demonstrates they are truly Friends of Youth.
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