HAVERHILL (CBS) – The first rule of Haverhill Downtown Boxing Club is you DO talk about Haverhill Downtown Boxing Club.
The space may be small, the equipment old and broken down, but the club is an oasis for many at-risk kids in the city.
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Ray Hebert, who has trained Golden Glove champions, is not trying to train professional fighters. He wants the young men he trains to grow up to be “gentlemen.”
Many of the kids who come to the club can’t afford dues – even though it’s only $20 per month. For those who can’t pay, Ray ponies up his own money.
The youngsters who come to the club are usually poor and come from single family homes. For them, the club is like family.
Many of them told WBZ-TV that if they didn’t have the club, they would be hanging around the streets with bad people.
At Haverhill Downtown Boxing Club, they learn more than just how to throw or take a punch. They learn rules and discipline.
And you can’t come in unless you have good grades. Ray and his staff work with school officials to make sure the kids are performing in the classroom.
Anyone who swears or uses bad language is kicked out for a week under the gym’s rules.
“To watch your child’s confidence build up, stand up straighter. He had good grades but they just got better,” said David Lynch, who started bringing his son Joshua to the gym.
Carmen Cintron is one member’s real name. But she’s known around the club as the “Puerto Rican Assassin.”
Cintron sees the place as her salvation, and the single mother brings her 8-year-old son in as well.
“I was in a very abusive relationship so I come here and Ray has been like my dad, his wife like a mother to me. This place is like my second home,” she said.
The Haverhill Downtown Boxing Club is struggling to pay its rent and electricity.
They need to upgrade their equipment. So they have started a Go Fund Me page where donors can help keep the club in business.