By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO December 4, 2007 Members of the community got a firsthand look at the new International Boxing Academy of Monticello (iBAM) facility on Wednesday night.
Scores of local people toured iBAM’s new location at 2 Pleasant Street in the Village of Monticello during an open house.
In addition to watching the iBAM fighters spar with each other and work out on the heavy bag and speed bag and go over punching techniques with trainers, those community members helped iBAM financially. Several individuals and businesses made generous donations to iBAM, a non-profit organization.
With those donations, as well as money received from a 50/50 raffle and a raffle featuring a host of prizes, iBAM raised $1,000.
Anthony Martinez, who is a member of the iBAM board of directors, spearheaded the fundraising efforts. Throughout the evening, Martinez used a microphone to keep everyone updated on the total amount of money raised and to personally thank those who donated.
“A thousand dollars was Anthony’s goal and that’s what we made,” iBAM President Ray Sheenan said.
Members of the public also had the opportunity to meet many of the iBAM people officers, members of the board of directors, volunteer trainers and coaches and the fighters.
Sheenan and Secretary/Treasurer Vince Ryan are the iBAM officers. In addition to Martinez, the board of directors includes Stephen H. Fisher, Bernard
Gassaway, Richard Riseling and Edward L. Branch Jr.
The iBAM volunteer trainers and coaches are Earl Gomez, Rick Gonsalves, Gordon Jenkins, Troy Nowlin, Jesse York, Jeff Peters, Lisa Tracy, Jose Toledo, Enrique Gonzalez and Chris Clark.
Tracy is also one of the iBAM fighters. The other boxers are Quentin Branch, Omar Choudri, Luis Gonzales, Billy Hussey, Mike Toledo, Jaclyn Sgro, Brian Padin, Jean Vargas and Jose Rivas.
Since it was founded back in March, iBAM has steadily grown. Through the assistance of Village of Monticello Manager Ray Nargizian, Mayor James Barnicle and the village board, iBAM moved into its present location a couple of months ago.
Last month, Bruce Silverglade, owner of the legendary Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, donated a ring to the boxing club. Several years ago, the same ring was donated to Gleason’s Gym by former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.
In addition, Peters recently donated equipment including a heavy bag and speed bag to iBAM. Peters used the equipment at his boxing club in Callicoon.
From all accounts, Wednesday night’s open house was very successful.
“It’s going better than I thought it would go,” said Branch, who lives in Monticello. “With the money we raise tonight, we can get some more gear.”
Vargas, who is originally from the Bronx but now resides in Monticello, agreed with Branch.
“This is really good,” said Vargas, a welterweight who has an amateur record of 2-3 and hopes to turn pro before his 21st birthday in July. “The community is showing us a lot of love tonight. This will help iBAM a lot.”
Nargizian stopped by the open house and liked what he saw.
“This is great,” he said. “What these coaches are doing is great for our community. The young fighters are learning about boxing the right way.”
Sheenan noted that Village of Monticello officials have been instrumental in iBAM’s growth.
“We really appreciate all of the support we have received from Manager Ray Nargizian, Mayor Barnicle and everyone in the village,” he said.
Among those attending the open house was Cindy Fracasse, proprietor of the Liberty Fitness Center and one of the people who helped start the Liberty Boxing Club at the center earlier this year.
“The seed has been planted, now watch it grow,” Fracasse said of iBAM’s status in the community. “I immensely respect Ray Sheenan and everyone else for doing this.”
Sheenan said that iBAM plans to have more open house events in the future.