BY Carolina Pichardo
Although the Inwood Boxing Academy (IBA) has been around since 2006, it has already managed to receive a makeover from the Discovery Channel’s Construction Intervention, train some of the city’s top boxers, and snatch some of our troubled youth from the streets.
That’s a record, if we do say so ourselves.
According to the IBA’s President, Joe Brender, things for the gym have gotten a little better since the remodeling. “It’s much cleaner than the other place,” he said. “People like the newness of it. It has murals on the walls, nice wallpaper and more lockers.”
However, it’s not like this was a horrible place before. “Before, it was a gym that had a lot of character. As eclectic or taped-up as it was, people still came up to me and said, ‘This is a beautiful gym.’”
It’s ideally centered among local public schools, which has been Brender’s goal all along. He hopes that the gym will be a tool utilized by community members to keep the children off the streets. “I want all kids to succeed,” he said. “They’re all inherently good kids!”
Based on the superstars and trainers that grace this gym each day, Brender’s vision is right on track. He’s supported by some of the boxing world’s best trainers, volunteers and boxers.
Let’s all now take Brender’s now famous “10¢ tour” of the gym.
Daniel “Shadow” Mingues, Jr. is also a licensed trainer and fitness expert for the gym. He’s worked with great boxers, such as Rick Frazier and Angel Torres (just to name a few).
Tony Hedgemond is a Golden Glove Champion, as well as a certified and licensed amateur and professional boxing coach. He’s regarded most as the gym’s “Fitness Guru” and has earned this title among the young and older crowd that join.
Along with Hedgemond, the gym is also graced with the expertise of one of New York City’s own, Dennis Milton. As the winner of four Golden Gloves and Nationals, Milton is highly- regarded in the boxing world. Currently, he works with 10-15 gym members, but is willing to put in the extra work for those training to compete. When he’s not at the gym, Milton is working with his own boxing organization, “Boxing1on1”
When it comes to boxing, Milton believes that it’s more mental than physical. “If we both get [into] shape and have the knowledge, it becomes a course of belief in yourself and that’s more mental.” It’s a concept that works for most of his trainees, such as Ben Hart of Manhattan College, a likely competitor for the 2012 Olympics.
Joining him and that great Olympic dream is four times Golden Glove and National Champion, Chistina Cruz. She’s been boxing for a little over four years, but already she’s a top ranking amateur in the U.S, with the hopes of going professional and taking it all in the near future.
She’s bound to accomplish all that and more with the help of her trainer, Marcos Suarez. Considered a coach, father figure and mentor to most of his boxers, Suarez’s work ranges from Cruz to helping prepare his own sons for the ring. Since 2004, he’s led many to championships, medals and the best titles in boxing.
Besides boxing and strength training, the Inwood Boxing Academy (IBA) also offers self-defense courses, as well as nutrition and health consultations. Currently, they’re seeking sponsorships from local businesses and organizations to support their after-school programs.
Inwood Boxing Academy (IBA)
651 Academy Street, New York, NY 10034.
Tel. (212) 304-1043