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White Center Boxing Club

White Center Boxing Club

Hello, I’m Deborah Wang. Seattle’s
economic boom has dominated the headlines, but other nearby communities
are seeing transformations of their own. White Center, a diverse community at the
southern tip of Seattle, is experiencing a cultural and economic revival. One
inspiration comes from an unexpected place: a boxing gym. Nils Cowan has the
story. RAGO: My name is Tony Rago, I’m 68 years old. I’m the boxing coach at White Center PAL Boxing Club. Boxing is my life. I’ve been a fan all my life. I used to watch boxing with my dad, sitting next to him on the couch. There is a lot of discipline in boxing,
you know, a lot of dedication. I think all that carries over into your
lifestyle too. That’s how I see boxing. When I first moved here, there was a lot of street crime, lot of alcohol and drugs. It was, oh White Center, you know you don’t want to go down there. The
community is trying to change that. I was with a couple other gyms before I came over to White Center PAL. I walked in, there was no coaches, there’s no structure of the program, had I think two
or three kids in there just punching on a bag. It’s an old handball court. It has a ring in it and we have 10 heavy bags hanging off the walls now. Just a lot of hard work to make that a training facility. We have two national champions, we won team championship trophies two or three
different times. The gym has made a name for itself. WEIR: Our mission here is to help these kids become good young men and women. You know not just in their boxing, but to help them get more confident, you know, gain that self esteem, so they can say no to the stuff they don’t need to be doing. Also, to make good young boxers. RAGO: A lot of the kids come in with no confidence, maybe they’ve been brow-beat at home, been picked on at school. They don’t know each other, but once they become part of this group, they all become friends with each other. The gym has given them a place to feel like they’ve got a family. KARYNA: Some people that know me don’t really see me as a tough girl. I’m still not fighting yet, but, I want to be able to do it someday. ALEX: It’s not really about winning or losing, it’s about trying really hard, giving it my all. Going back into the gym after the fight and seeing what I can do to get better. WEIR: Anyone who goes through them ropes is a champion. ESTIVEN: I’m Estiven, and I’m 11. RAGO: Estiven, when he first came to the gym, he was a little awkward, a little cocky. Now he’s one of the most pleasurable kids to have in the gym, and he’s become a pretty good little boxer too. ESTIVEN: I like it because, I have a good discipline, work harder and never give up. WILLIE: I’m Willie and I’m 14 years old. RAGO: Willie’s from a single-parent home. I know his mom works a lot. WILLIE: My mom didn’t want me to join boxing at first. GOMEZ: I thought ‘oh my god, boxing?’ I thought it was something bad for him. Now I’m his number one fan. RAGO: He’s had 15 fights now, only lost two or three times. We took him down to the National Junior Golden Gloves last year, and he came back National Champion. I can’t tell you how happy I am for this young man. WILLIE: It’s changed the people I hang out with, it’s got my grades up in school, and I’ve learned how to respect more people. GOMEZ: There’s no words to say the coaches,
thank you, you know, being part of his life and my life, they are part of my family now. RAGO: The community’s cleaned up quite a bit, and a lot of more respectable businesses have moved in. They’re more of a family type community. WEIR: They believe in their little city here, and they want these kids to have a chance. RAGO: I just love being around those kids. I like to see them growing and maturing and making something of themselves. That’s what keeps me going. To get me away from the gym, you’re gonna probably have to bury me, because I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. IN Close on KCTS 9 is made possible in party by BECU. Join the conversation about our region’s changing neighborhoods at

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6 thoughts on “White Center Boxing Club

  1. This is a very encouraging and heart warming video. My hat is off to Mr. Rago and the others who have made this boxing center a success for these kids – a great public service!

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