“Take it off the streets. Bring it to the ring.”
– Brunswick Boxing and Fitness Club motto
At SAVE (Skills, Awareness, Values, and Enrichment), JT facilitates the opportunity for young people to encounter practical social skills such as individual and financial responsibility, to harness awareness of the world around them, and cultivate family and community values. At the same time that they develop these skills, the people who come through the SAVE program are able to channel their energy and gain confidence, discipline and personal enrichment through the art of boxing.
Originally from New Brunswick, JT spent part of his youth in the unruly ghettos of Detroit before returning to New Jersey. In the midst of a rough childhood, JT left home at the age of 12, slipping inevitably into a life of drug dealing and crime, he would wind up in the Middlesex County jailhouse on numerous occasions. Nearly thirty years ensnared by a revolving door prison system bore hard-hitting lessons about social injustices surrounding him. It had come time for JT to turn his life around as well as make a commitment to the community — “I started my walk as far as trying to help the next man not to fall down and stay down.” Since the community center on Commercial Avenue was torn down some years earlier, he decided to open up a new center “so that the people had something to do in their community again!” Dedicated to his vision, JT took up carpentry and built a reputation for himself amongst local business owners as the genuine article. And through the good graces of a former employer and benefactor, a man he calls “Father”, JT was able to obtain sufficient resources and a suitable space.
Brunswick Boxing and SAVE are the realization of his devotion to helping young people overcome obstacles similar to those he once found himself up against; aimless or apathetic and without confidence. At the end of the day, the work is an inspiration to his students so that they may help others in return. For JT, being able to pay it forward is key.
“That’s the basic part that we learn here,” JT said. “When you start opening up your hands and helping other people, you’re not going to lose.”