Camden,NJ childhood stories I

One of my favorite memories of growing up in Camden was a man who lived on my block. He was in his late 50s. He lived with his mother. Back then in 1989 I was an 11 year old kid who was into boxing. Me and my friends would go to Jeff’s GYM on Federal Street. Karate classes were too expensive. The guy who ran the gym would charge only $2 a week. Which was a price we could afford. Every few months or so the gym would host boxing matches. We didn’t know who we were going to fight. Everyone wanted to fight the boxer from Atlantic City nicknamed Pretty Boy. We laughed at his nickname but the guy could fight. My friend took the nickname hands of stone. I took the nickname Bad Boy. He was mad at me for a second for not giving him the nickname I chose. Bad Boy was a cool nickname for me. From 4pm-6pm we would practice. The man would always take the time to help me with me with boxing. I got one on one lessons with him. He always took the time teach me the basics about Boxing.  I had the worst jab he would help me improve on it. He did not have to help me. I remember one day he told me the story about growing up in Puerto Rico he told me that he had to fight to eat. They would set up fights. The winner would win a meal. He had a rough life. He was not able to finish school. He didn’t have the same opportunities we take for granted.  What stays with me is the kindness of his heart he mentored me. He was a kind trainer. He was also tough he made sure I was learning and not wasting time.

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