Friday, December 17, 2004

Positive Effects, Respect and Storming City Hall

People do read this with a positive response. I looked back and the piece I wrote on the passing of Junie caught the eye of some of his family. They wrote more than a few responses to the piece I wrote.

I went back to the SBAC to the Myrl Taylor Reunion Rumble. Myrl passed away last August. I bought two tables for the coaches and associates to pay my respect to all of it. It is a big deal dinner fundraiser for the SBAC. Joe Buck spoke and did a great job. A couple of the members had rushed me a few days earlier on how much they wanted me and the crew to participate in the SBAC. I am the youngest member by far. It has become a retirement home/bar. Most of the guys I had encouraged to join wound up quitting. Young good people who are involved. Most of them think I have been wasting my time to continue being a member. I had gotten a lot of heat being a member over essentially nothing. Not paying enough respect. Fear of taking thunder away from the established members. Sponsoring the first minority member in the club's 105 year history. Bringing in young people they didn't know who were not on the "inside" or related. And getting an earful all the time from these old guys. Sometimes positive, but often very harshly negative. I sold out their first boxing show in decades. My sister got married there. My good friends have gotten married there. I have donated time, money and more. Oh well. It was guys like Junie that kept me going in, but alas I have had to pretty much cut off my ties. I got my own gym now. I have a youth program that we are really able to take hold and is effective. The coaches have far more freedom. We don't have to fear of being cold cocked by drunken made members who you can't touch. We run our own Athletic Club. It is probably far more like the SBAC when it formed. We are directly working with the kids. We are in the community trying to make it work better for everyone. We have chess classes twice a week. We are starting up tutoring next semester. We are going to start up a baseball team in the summer. We may start up a basketball team too. That is a real Saint Louis Athletic Club. Not this SBAC or MAC crap.

We got the tables and showed our respect and represented at the Rumble at the SBAC. AC's are essentially gangs, not unlike a lot of organizations. The MAC, fraternities, high schoolers and such all about getting respect. None of the members came over to our tables to show us any respect. I went around to all the other tables, said hello and such. I have been doing it for years and years and was hoping it might start to pay off. Nope. Eh, no need to worry about them. We will show them when we just continue doing what we are doing. We are going to field the first full youth team on Jan 7, as long as some of these kids keep working hard.

I went to the SBAC meeting last Friday for the elections. I missed the election itself. I ran for the committee last year, lost after some controversy over stupid things. Didn't matter really. I paid more respect around, but this time it was much harder. I paid definite respect to the guys who have consistently supported us. Wimpy is one guy in general. I wish I could get him to join the Panda AC. He told me how he was my sponsor. I had two guys sponsor me. Wimpy and Junie. Wimpy was proud to have sponsored me. Wimpy is a cool fella. He lives down off Broadway. He grew up in the neighborhood. He is a huge fight fan. He stays current more than anyone else I know. He bets on the ponies. He is a short fella with a white flat top. Friendly guy. Wimpy also pointed out to me the day I came in and he sponsored me. The same way Junie did. I told him about the fights I have coming up on Feb 4 at the Soulard Market Gymnasium. He looked at me with a smile. He looked proud. He told me he used to sleep there. His mother wouldn't get home form work until close to midnight. He would play ping pong all day and skip school. And he would wait for his mother to get home at night. It reminded me a lot of some of the kids we got at the Panda. I have to kick them out sometimes. Not because they are unruly, but I have to leave and they don't want to leave. But we always treat them well. We had a party for them the other night. We showed fight videos, grilled chicken, had popcorn and peanuts. They loved it. They kept us here about two hours after we planned on leaving. We wound up driving them home too.

Wimpy asked me all about my fights and wanted to know where I have been. I told him about the gym and I could tell a certain amount of disappointment. What could I do? I told Wimp that he would sit ringside at my next fights with his crew. They deserve that respect.

Earlier this evening I took two of the kids, Bruce and Derron down to City Hall for the Xmas party. Derron is the Captain of the boxing team. Coach Doveed went down too. I wanted to make sure eveyone knew of the AC. These are two of the better behaved and disciplined kids. I had them follow me around and I introduced them to a lot of people. We met with Chris, a boxer who is a City Marshall, Pam Ross, Brandyn Jones, DJ Wilson, Jim Shrewsbury, Dorothy Kirner, April Ford Griffin. Bruce, the younger of the two, went to go visit Santa. I found this a bit odd for I thought he might be a bit old for this. Doveed encouraged it. Bruce got some candy, which I figured he was aiming for. But then he told me he asked Santa for some boxing shoes. All the kids want shoes. Now I can't afford to get these kids shoes. The club is already bleeding me dry as it is. But I really want to get some of the better boxers some shoes. At least club shoes we can swap out with the kids as they compete. So Bruce is now convinced that he is going to get shoes, but he wants me to tell Santa he wears size four and a half. Great. I am not sure Bruce will be ready to box for the card on Jan 7, but he might be for he has been coming in extra and been working harder. Now he is under the impression someone owes him shoes. Okay, now how is the Santa that was sitting on the President's chair in the Aldermanic chambers supposed to deliver Bruce Johnson's size 4 1/2 boxing shoes. I talked to Doveed and I guess we will figure something out. If I didn't buy those tickets to the Rumble I could have bought the entire team a pair of boxing shoes. Respect. What a load. If anyone has kid's boxing shoes, send them my way please!

We continued over to the Mayor's office party. All of City Hall is quite beautiful. The chamber's feel so right, and then the Mayor's office is perfect. Just enough outdated feel to the furniture crossed the beautiful interior design. I saw Richard Callow outside the Mayor's office. I introduced the kids to him. Richard has his hand in just about everything in town. He pays attention, close attention to what is going on. He is a controversial guy and just about everyone has disagreed with him at one point or another, but he is always moving and supports others that do the same and I give him propers for that. I had Derron give Richard a flyer. He smiled and loved it. We chatted up the gym. We talked about a range of things. Fun. He then asked if we wanted to see the Mayor. I found this funny, for he doesn't work for City Hall or anything, but I guess he was arranging for people to visit with the Don Slay during the Christmas Party. Sure enough we were all allowed in to visit the man and Jeff Rainford. I know Jeff Rainford, Slay's top guy. The Mayor told us Cory Spinks had just left. He showed the kids some signed gloves and posters from Cory. They were really impressed. Francis told us that Cory is likely going to fight at the Keil(okay he said Saavis, but until they cut me in on the check I am honoring a dead mayor). I had heard rumors that Cory may be fighting on Feb 5, the night after my fights at the Keil. Apparently they are very close to closing the deal. That is huge. Francis said he would be fighting "Jab Zudah". I did correct him with "Zab Judah" and saying that would be a very hot fight. We spoke about several different things we were up to at the AC and a few other items unrelated to that. Francis pulled out a few pens to give to the boys, and us too. Nice gesture. The kids were a bit shy, but very respectful. I was very proud of them. We all shook hands properly and left. I think the kids enjoyed it. I know they were bummed they missed Cory Spinks. That is what they talked about most. Actually Coach Doveed kept talking about that. Funny.

I think things are going well. I just hope I can keep this thing going without being bled dry. It should start supporting itself soon. I got other projects I need to push.


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