WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Dozens of White Plains Youth Bureau staff and participants gathered in city hall Friday to congratulate Benjamin Tiger Baez, 20, on sparring his way to the Golden Gloves Final Championship at Madison Square Garden Thursday and taking home the silver gloves.
Mayor Thomas Roach declared March 30 Benjamin Baez and Kenny Mack Jr. Day, in honor of the SUNY Purchase liberal arts student and his coach.
Baez said he was pleased with his performance and the 18 relatives, Youth Bureau Project Hope Boxing athletes and friends who came to cheer him on.
Its an honor to represent White Plains and to receive even the silver gloves, which I fought hard for. Im proud, said Baez, a Long Island native who has been in the White Plains area for two years. I had a good time. Theres nothing like having a fight where youre able to do exactly what you planned to do.
He contended with 44 others in the 150-pound division, fought through the first match with a fractured nose, trained through a knee injury, but decided to box on. After three two-minute rounds Wednesday, Baez became the silver gloves champion.
I was nervous to be fighting, but I approached it just like I approach anything else. Its just a fight. It doesnt matter whether its at Madison Square Garden or down the street somewhere, Baez said.
One-and-a-half years ago, Baez began training with the Youth Bureaus Project Hope Boxing Program, which is designed to enroll youth in an after school program that teaches discipline and other skills. Coach Kenneth Mack Attack Jr., a Golden Gloves winner, said in his eyes Baezs silver gloves were white gold.
None of his opponents had his skills or were as astute as him, said Mack, who coaches about 75 boxers in the program. Boxing doesnt just relate to the ring, but it relates to life. Its the determination and the problem solving skills that hes learned.
Baezs mother Amy Silva said her son allowed her to watch him box for the first time Thursday. After watching his tenacity she decided that he became a man.
Im very proud of him. In my heart he got the gold. I know that this will make him stronger. What knocks you down, forces you to get back up, Silva said. Im really glad that he found a home away from home in this community center and he has developed an incredible relationship with Kenny Mack.
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