By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Pennsylvania Golden Gloves regional tournament returns to South Philadelphia Saturday night. The event is a major fundraiser for a Northern Liberties boxing gym that has changed the lives more than a thousand inner city kids.
For more than 30 years, Joe Hand Boxing Gym has been a safe haven for kids from some of toughest neighborhoods in Philadelphia.
“When we see a youngster with a school bag on one shoulder and a gym bag on the other shoulder, we know that we’ve won them over,” says Joe Hand, Sr.
Once a Philadelphia police Officer, Hand got the funds to start the gym from money he invested in Joe Frazier as a young boxer. Today, the non-profit is a two-pronged project. The first prong is a boys and girls athletic club where they can learn self-defense.
“Celebrities come here,” says Hand, Sr., “world champions come here and a lot of fellows who come here go on to be world champions.
Hand, Sr. attributes the cleanliness of the gym as one of the reasons superstar boxing athletes like Bernard Hopkins, Danny Garcia, Chazz Witherspoon and Gabriel Roado flock to Joe Hand Gym to train. But the gym has more than just a bunch of punching bags and boxing rings. The second prog of the project is a computer lab.
“A lot of children will come in here and use it, some of them train and some of them don’t,” says Hand, Sr., who notes that seniors and others from the surrounding community also use the computer lab.
Saturday night, for the 18th year in a row, Joe Hand Gym will hold the Golden Gloves. It’s the non-profit’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
“We’ll raise about $50,000,” says Hand, Sr., “but it takes about $200,000 to run this place.”
“Learn a lot of defense, offense, slip and punches,” says Scott Kelleher who has been training at Joe Hand for more than a year and is hoping to win his bout at the Golden Gloves and go pro. “And hopefully be world champion one day.”
He attributes his success thus far to the many mentors and trainers who volunteer at Joe Hand.
“Everyone here is really nice and they get along as a team,” says Jaclyne McTemly, a La Salle Student who trains at Joe Hand Gym five days a week. She is one of the only women who trains at the gym and will compete in the Golden Gloves.
“I never thought I could do as much as I do,” says McTemly, who works full time, goes to school and trains for boxing matches.
She’s hoping to win the women’s regional championship Saturday.
“I think I’m ready,” says McTemly, “I’ve prepared myself….a big thank you to Joe Hand for this amazing gym.”
The Pennsylvania Golden Gloves Regional Tournament kicks off at 7pm on Saturday, April 12th at 2300 South Swanson Street.