By Rob Potter
LIBERTY October 5, 2007 Although some media outlets reported that it had been canceled, the Liberty Fitness Center’s first ever amateur boxing card was held this past Saturday night.
The venue had to be changed at the proverbial 11th hour, but Liberty Fitness Center proprietor Cindy Fracasse and dozens of other dedicated people worked into the early hours of Saturday morning to ensure the show would go on.
The event, which was sponsored by the Liberty Fitness Center and the Liberty Boxing Club and sanctioned by USA Boxing, Metropolitan Division, was originally scheduled to be held in the Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on the Sullivan County Community College campus in Loch Sheldrake.
But Fracasse said that when she arrived at Paul Gerry Fieldhouse on Friday evening, college officials told her that she could not hold the event there. Fracasse said that the officials were worried about the ring damaging or marring the new wood floor that had recently been installed in the fieldhouse.
Fracasse said she had plenty of matting to go underneath the ring and insurance through USA Boxing Metro in the event the floor was accidently damaged. In addition, Fracasse noted, the ring, which was rented from Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, would be set up under the supervision of a man who has 20 years of experience in such kind of work.
The college officials still said no, so Fracasse and dozens of fighters, parents, trainers and volunteers went back to the parking lot.
One of those fighters, Quentin Branch of the International Boxing Academy of Monticello, Inc., showed Fracasse a new pair of shorts with his name sewn on the side that he had purchased for his first fight.
“He had such a sad look in his face and his eyes,” Fracasse said. “He was looking forward to this event for six months.”
Fracasse said that after seeing how disappointed Branch was, she decided that some how, some way, “the show must go on.”
“We were in that parking lot at the college for five hours,” Fracasse said. “We called everyone we could think of who could help us find a new location for the boxing event.
“I called Ray Sheenan of the Monticello Boxing Club, Jeff Peters of the Callicoon Boxing Club, our ring announcer Dick Riseling, anyone I thought could help us,” she added.
They placed calls to Kutsher’s, Swan Lake Hotel, Villa Roma, Holiday Mountain and Grandview. Fracasse said that representatives from all of those venues said they would like to help but could not due to previously planned events and/or other circumstances.
Finally, Fracasse called Jodi Goodman, who is a good friend of the Fracasse family and a member of the Liberty Fitness Center.
Goodman suggested that Fracasse call fellow Liberty resident Mike McGuire, who is also a member of the Liberty Central School Board of Education, to ask about hosting the fight card in the Liberty High School gymnasium.
McGuire was willing to help and instructed Fracasse to call Liberty Central School Superintendent Mike Vanyo.
Vanyo told Fracasse if enough board members said “yes” to the idea, the boxing program could be held at the high school.
Fracasse made those telephone calls and enough board members said “OK” to the idea.
The group of fighters, coaches, parents and volunteers then made their way to Liberty High School. With the assistance and guidance of the Liberty Central School custodial staff members, they spent the next few hours setting up the ring and hundreds of chairs.
About 3 a.m. Saturday, Fracasse returned to her Liberty Fitness Center office. As her 9-year-old son R.J. slept on the office floor, Fracasse made phone calls and sent e-mails informing people of the location change for the boxing card.
Following some final preparations on Saturday morning and afternoon, the event was held on Saturday evening. About 300 people enjoyed an eight-bout card which featured male and female amateur boxers representing fight clubs in Sullivan County, Orange County, Westchester County, the Adirondacks, Rochester and Philadelphia, Pa.
The youngest fan in attendance was Fracasse’s 2-month-old grandson Joseph Jr.
Winners included Deion Cassel, Martin Murphy, Alexander Pratt, Quentin Branch, Lisa Tracy and Norman Watford.
Tracy was one of three Liberty Boxing Club fighters on the card. Michael Maltese fought in a 155 lb. bout, while Omar Choudri was slated to fight in the 178 lb. division, but no suitable opponent could be found for him.
A portion of the evening’s proceeds were donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Three days after the card, Fracasse was still amazed by and appreciative of everyone who helped to ensure the boxing card was held.
“Thank God for Liberty High School, everyone there saved the bell,” she said. “The staff there is really community minded.”
Fracasse also thanked some local sponsors; Coach Chris Clark of the Liberty Boxing Club; the seven officials and referees from USA Boxing Metro and USA Boxing Adirondack Area who supervised the matches; DJ Chucks and Paul Stark of WJFF, who donated their services as DJs for the evening; Cable 6, which aired a report of the event on its Monday evening newscast; Jodi Goodman; Linda Anderson, Abby Cerrone and Gabby Rodriguez, all of whom were ring card ladies; and the volunteers who stood along Route 52 near SCCC on Saturday holding signs to let people know the card had been moved to Liberty High School.
Fracasse noted that she also appreciated the staff at Monticello Gaming & Raceway. They were willing to host the event, but they called Fracasse back after she had already finalized the arrangement to hold the card at Liberty High School.
Saturday night’s event was the first of many boxing cards the Liberty Fitness Center and Liberty Boxing Club plan to hold. Fracasse said she and the boxing club members are hoping to host a card in early December at a location yet to be determined.
Fracasse said the organization is in need of sponsors for that upcoming boxing event. To become a sponsor, or for more information, please call Fracasse at 292-0756.