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Buddy LaRosa Makes OTR Boxing Ring Possible for Young People

CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- Young people in the Tri-State have a new state-of-the-art boxing facility. It's thanks to a lot of donations and Cincinnati's pizza king. Buddy LaRosa needed a place to expand his boxing leagues. Tuesday evening,  young boxers and  Local 12's Paula Toti got the first look at a new gym in Over-the-Rhine.

Buddy LaRosa has helped to bring boxing to young people since the 60's. He says when he was a boy the gym provided a second family and boxing helped to keep him off the streets. The leagues he's involved with, Cincinnati Golden Gloves for Youth and Pal, now have a new home. Buddy LaRosa has had many successes in life and he says this is one, "this has been a vision for me to have the largest amateur boxing gym in the country, how about that."

Buddy is the first to admit, it took a team to get this done for the kids. The Over-the-Rhine rec center had an indoor pool that was in bad shape for several years and closed the last few. So the Cincinnati Recreation Commission donated the space.

John Burns, a board member with Buddy's boxing charity with corporate ties, helped get donations to fill in the pool among other things. He says,"so it was a matter of reaching out to people I knew and they were happy to help."

The focal point of the facility, the boxing ring, Buddy just happened to have it in the basement of one of his restaurants. It came from the old Cincinnati Gardens. "It took an army to move it. I didn't think we would. I bought it because all the greats fought there, Ezzard Charles."

Buddy's excitement about boxing and young people is evident, "How are you doing with your grades. Good, good."

The famous boxers will always inspire the young people at the gym, but those involved with the project say it's not about turning out champs.  Says executive director Art Neuman, "we've turned out a lot of champs. We're prouder of the kids who become good fathers, husbands, wage earners." This extended family lets those men in the making have some fun along the way.

Young people of all ages get to use the gym at almost no cost. They do have to keep their grades up, at least a 2.5 average.  And they get training in boxing and counseling on life, which includes lectures on staying away from drugs.

The official ribbon cutting on the gym is November 1, but they decided to open the doors early so the kids can start having fun.

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