New boxing club honors Manchester police
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Mon., Jul. 25, 2011
“Respect, order, character and service, that’s what ROCS stands for,” said Ring on Champions Society boxing club co-founder and president Kate Nicholas. On July 23, ROCS honored the Manchester Police Department for exemplifying all of these values, at the first ROCS boxing event, "Summer Heat,” held at Nomads AdventureQuest in South Windsor.
Acknowledging the honor, MPD Chief Marc Montminy said, “The police are here to do more than give out tickets.” Citing the department’s service to the community during the Hartford Distributors shootings last year and more recently several incidents in the Hartford Road area, he said, “It’s nice for the community to recognize that."
Voicing his support for ROCS, Montminy said, “It’s a great opportunity to help kids that might otherwise be on the street.” He said he feels that the program fits well with the Police Athletic League homework club and karate program. “Boxing teaches dedication and control.”
“Boxing is about discipline, behavior and sportsmanship,” said former PAL treasurer and board member John Rinaldi. “Those are valuable lessons for kids of any age to learn.”
ROCS opened the boxing society for at-risk youth in May 2011. It is located at 52 Main St. Paul Cichon is the training director and co-founder of the non-profit organization. Cichon was also the boxing coach at the former Police Athletic League boxing club, and was entered into the Manchester Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. A self-described at-risk kid once himself, Cichon is especially pleased that three of his former PAL boxing youths, Miguel Ayala, Corey Pouncey and Fernando Ramos, have joined him as trainers at ROCS. “It’s a good feeling because it means they learned it’s good to give back,” said Cichon. “Something I did for them stayed with them.” He also noted that the community has been very supportive of the new program, including the landlord fellow tenants in the building, St. Bridget’s Church and Farr’s Sporting Goods.
“To know that Miguel [Ayala] came back is a testament to the relationships Paul builds,” said David Blackwell, former state senator for Manchester. He recalled taking Ayala to meet with the governor after one of Ayala’s many winning matches in the early 2000s.
According to retired Sgt. Howard Beeler, current PAL president, when PAL had to relocate from the Parkade location, the boxing program was no longer viable, due to financial reasons and space issues. PAL refers any current interest in boxing to ROCS. “Paul [Cichon] has a good heart. He’s done a lot for the kids,” said Beeler. “I admire that he was able to bring boxing back to the Manchester area.”
“We’re growing phenomenally,” said Nicholas about the response to the all-volunteer boxing society. The program is open to boys and girls ages 8 to 21. “We’re an old-fashioned boxing club,” she said. There is a $10 a month membership fee, which can be fulfilled by completing chores at the club, serving at community events, or showing improvement in school through better grades or behavior.
“I just wanted to do it,” said 16-year-old Kaylen Torres, “to get out of the house.” She just started boxing when ROCS opened and is now dedicated to training four days a week.
Being a new club, none of the ROCS fighters are participating in the Summer Heat event. However, 13-year-old Mikey Williams will be traveling to Kansas City in August for the World Ringside Championships, hoping to repeat his 2010 success. “The sport teaches me a lot,” said Williams, “such as loyalty and participating with others.” He especially likes the competitiveness of boxing.
“It gives them a place to go, to work out, get grounded and get off the street,” said ROCS trainer Corey Pouncey. He joined PAL boxing when he was 13. “It never left my mind,” said the 26-year-old, “so I made my mind to get back into it.”
Similarly, Fernando Ramos returned to boxing after his start with PAL. He originally joined to stay off the street and to do something positive. “Enjoy boxing,” he said. “It will take you somewhere if you stick with it.”
For more information about the Ring of Champions Society boxing club, contact Kate Nicholas at 860-712-2626 or visit the website at manchesterrocs.com.