Fort Myers recognizes success of local youth boxing academy

City of Fort Myers recognized the achievements of the boxing academy at the Fort Myers Police Athletic League (PAL) Monday at city hall.

The boxing academy brought home four wins and a second-place team trophy from its recent competition.

“They come from low income, or just a lot of parents don’t get involved,” boxing coach Jose Ojeda said. “So that’s where we step in and make sure they’re not getting in trouble.”

Ojeda’s message to the kids he mentors hits harder than his hook.

“I was always taught respect and right and wrong,” Ojeda said. “And that’s what we’re trying to implement on these kids.”

For 16 years, Ojeda has helped to get kids off the streets and into the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“Sixteen years of three hours a day, five days a week,” Ojeda said. “Sometimes we have tournaments until Sunday.”

Ojeda volunteers his time to teach kids how to box, pounding in life skills he hopes lifts kids to success.

“The biggest thing I’ve seen the program do is guide these youth to becoming a great citizen,” Ojeda said.

Ojeda works with the PAL, which creates positive activities and provides positive influences for kids.

“He’s nice, and he wants us to succeed,” Teroy Sanders said.

“He’s a good coach,” Daniko Diez said. “I’ve known him since I was 9 years old, and he always helps me.”

“He makes boxing fun for us, and we go different places,” Nathan Martinez said.

Ojeda says those testimonials are the greatest reward and accomplishment for the work his does.

“It feels good to hear kids say, ‘You were there for me,’” Ojeda said. “It’s the point where you change the kid’s life.”

PAL boxing academy will compete in Orlando this weekend before taking athletes to the USA Boxing eastern qualifiers in Ohio in October.

Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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