Tuesday, February 2, 2016

City Program Gives Kids a Fighting Chance

Chuck "The Professor" Mussachio, Al Mussachio, Commissioner Pete Byron and Delano "Panama" Richards


While some call it a boxing gym, others call it the place where hard work and a dedicated team of volunteers makes dreams of being a champion come true.

The Wildwood Boxing Club, located at the corner of Garfield & Park avenues and housed in a former automobile transmission repair shop, is filled with punching bags, weights and a regulation-sized boxing ring that was donated by local philanthropist Christine Rothwell.

It's also filled with the wisdom of three men who want to share their experience with anyone who wishes to learn the art of the sweet science.

Wildwood Boxing Club coaches and trainers Al Mussachio, his son Chuck Mussachio, and Delano Richards bring more than a century of boxing skills to those who walk through the door of the city's boxing club.

"We've been here since 1997," said Al Mussachio, "and we've trained hundreds of kids as well as adults."

One young boxer he trained holds a special place in Al Mussachio's heart - his 36-year-old son, Chuck. The younger Mussachio, a four-time All American while in college, is now a guidance counselor at Lower Cape May Regional High School. He is also known as Chuck "The Professor" Mussachio, a professional light heavyweight boxer with an impressive record of 18-3-2.

According to "The Professor," his father has been his trainer throughout his amateur as well as professional career. While no longer fighting professionally, the light heavyweight continues to train at the Wildwood Boxing Club and helps train aspiring boxers. This March at least three of the club's athletes will participate in Golden Gloves bouts.

"Our kids have a great shot at winning," Richards said.

The most recent addition to the training team, Richards came to the club in December 2015. As a former professional boxer in Panama, Richards hopes to share his skills with members of the Spanish speaking community who want to train.

With the advent of a new year, the three trainers are hoping to see an influx in participation. Training is open to males and females, from ages 10 up through senior citizens, and is free. For children younger than 10 who express an interest in training to box, an adult is asked to stay on site during training times.

City Commissioner Pete Byron, a longstanding member of the Wildwood Boxing Club, extolled the value of the the club's commitment to the Wildwood community and its youth.

"Boxing teaches kids respect, it teaches them confidence and it teaches them teamwork. The impact it has on kids' lives is far-reaching," said Byron.

"This is another opportunity for our children to participate in recreational activity," said Mayor Ernie Troiano. "We're happy to have these qualified trainers and fighters who are able to give our children firsthand information."

For those thinking they can hone their street fighting skills by training to box, Al Mussachio said that is not the case. "When someone comes in, I'll ask them if they've ever boxed before and they'll tell me, 'No, but I've had a lot of street fights.' I'll tell them forget that. A street fight lasts 10 seconds and it's over. A boxing match doesn't even get started in that time."

"You don't have to get in the ring to be a world champion fighter," said Chuck Mussachio. "Boxing will get you in shape, it will get you mentally prepared and you learn to stay focused. I've traveled all over the country and the world; I got my education for free through boxing. The best years of my life, even outside the ring, all started in a boxing ring."

The Wildwood Boxing Club is open Monday - Friday, from 3 p.m. until closing.

For additional information, please visit the club.

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