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Reader feedback 11.17.04 


As a 35-year coordinator of St. Martin Boxing Club, 22-year state and regional director of the New YorkState and Region I Silver Gloves, Golden Glove Board member, and past president of the Niagara District USA Boxing, I found the account of Rochester boxing to be a bit incomplete and misleading ("Knock-out," October 20).

            Rochester amateur boxing, as is the case with amateur boxing nationwide, is governed and regulated by USA Boxing, a subsidiary of the USOC and IOC. Locally, it is governed and promoted by a democratic Local Boxing Committee, a subsidiary of USA Boxing. Most of the considerable amount of Rochester activity has been at several USA Boxing member clubs --- Baden Street, SWAN, and St. Martin. There is no Avenue D Recreation USA boxing club. Montgomery is a member, though their activity has diminished. Their leadership has opted for professional boxing in the past year or so.

            The amateur boxing clubs' purpose is youth development. As with all responsible youth coaches, the idea of obtaining wealth through professional sport is strongly downplayed lest it damage balanced youth development. For example, though St. Martin has produced a number of outstanding boxers over the past 35 years, including national champions, none of the 17 who have boxed professionally has become wealthy. The same is true of similar clubs. Thus the goal of youth development is essential.

            There is a great amount of amateur boxing activity year round. For example, St. Martin boxers participated in 57 shows in the past year, ranging from recreational-level shows to national competition. Baden Street runs the Junior Olympics, and Baden's Lord Johnson is the LBC's Junior Olympic chair.

            St. Martin brought the Silver Gloves Tournament to Rochester and the northeast in 1982. It runs the New York State Tournament, the Region I Tournament, and organizes the Region I team in national competition.

            Rochester boxers have often been dominant in the New York State Golden Gloves and the Niagara USA Boxing Tournaments. A number of girls now also participate. That amateur boxing is safe was proven by exhaustive studies by JohnsHopkinsMedicalSchool and other studies worldwide.

            All this activity is due to the efforts of many volunteers. Volunteer coaches must be certified by USA Boxing, pay membership dues, and contribute to their clubs. Volunteer referees and judges also must become certified and registered. Their expenses are entirely borne by themselves. Volunteer doctors are always a critical shortage.

            Lower-income minorities are the main contributors to amateur boxing in Rochester and most other places. This may be a reason why it gets so little media attention. The article mentions old-timers of the past and a professional fan club. Unfortunately, they seldom support these youth programs. Local leaders must struggle with the present and the future.

            All youth development clubs are hard-pressed to survive financially and depend on meager donations. The courageous efforts on behalf of the many needy and at-risk Rochester youth depend on community support. A test of a community is whether it supports efforts such as these boxing clubs. We are actively engaged while others simply talk about the bad aspects of our community.

            Don Simkin, Crawford Street, Rochester


Damn, that boxing article was good ("Knock Out," by Frank De Blase, October 20). Thank you, Frank. Keep it up, and that rag will be a lot more interesting.

            David Spampinato, Vassar Street, Rochester


I agree with the writer who thought that we ought to have a day of remembrance ("Grief, Shared," The Mail, November 10). For various reasons I would like to suggest November 22. I will light a candle on that day to reflect the loss of a little more of our democratic way of life and my sadness at the continuation of this utterly corrupt, potentially despotic regime that rules in the name of a higher order, but wouldn't know goodness if it bit it in the tail.

            I am so disgusted by this junta and the strangely delusional people that follow it that I am truly embarrassed to live in this country controlled by these fringe radicals. I was hoping that we might be able to join the civilized world again, but it looks like we will be stuck in a greedy, un-American retro empire, where the very rich are literally getting richer as we speak and the rest of us are struggling to hold on to some remnant of the American dream.

            Robert Benvenuti, Delaware Avenue, Rochester


What does it mean when a free people voluntarily calls back into office a government that sent their children to war on a lie while borrowing billions of dollars that they and their children's children will have to pay back without jobs or education...

            A government that has violated its constitution in the name of security while leaving our borders unprotected... a government that allowed the world's most dangerous terrorist to escape and attacked a dictator of our own making who had never attacked us... a government that ordered the imprisonment and torture of a people it claimed it was liberating... a government that is dismantling and selling its own environment... a government that has embarrassed and diminished its nation among the world community of nations....

            In short, what does it mean when a free people chooses a government that is bent on the destruction of their own country?

            It means that a little over half of its voting citizens, through laziness or ignorance, or lack of curiosity, have failed to adequately inform themselves before voting. It means that perhaps they voted on the basis of a single issue of personal belief rather than on the aggregate fitness of the candidate. It means that they turned a blind eye to the well-publicized crimes of this administration.

            It means that just under half of this nation's people saw with clear eyes the incompetence, greed, and moral bankruptcy of the Bush gang. It means that all in this powerful nation will have to participate more deeply in the suffering of this world.

            Just under half of our nation is mourning and fearful of what the next four years will bring. We wonder if our freedom and our nation will survive until the next election... if there is one. But nearly half of America is a lot of people, and most of the rest of the world would like to see things change here. That is a lot of people and a lot of energy.   Life is not over. We can still find one another and build alternatives, mount challenges, and spread decency and dignity through simple acts of service and human kindness. We must act from our highest selves, regardless of the outcomes of our efforts. The alternative is to live as whipped zombies, neither dead nor alive.

            All things come to an end. This time will test us, but it will pass. We can never know the full power and ultimate results of our good efforts. Nor do we need to know. We must simply do what we see before us that needs doing... what our spirits demand of us. Courage is the choice to work through our heartbreak; salvation lies in the smallest contribution to a better world.

            John Kastner, Ericsson Street, Rochester


We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester14607.

            Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. We don't publish letters that have been sent to other media. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than about once every two months.

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