Archimedes Principles: Brains And Brawn

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[New York: Sports]

The setting—Archimedes Academy at the I.S. 174 campus in the Soundview section of the Bronx. Fighters are sprawled in the locker room in anticipation of the 81st Annual Daily News Golden Gloves tournament.

Some sit on the long wooden benches between the tall gray lockers; others sit on the floor with backs on the wall or lockers; yet others wait on line to be examined by two doctors.

The only clear audible sounds in the locker room are the doctors bellowing out commands.

Outside, the gym buzzes with excitement, not only from the boxing fans but from the teachers, administrators, and student volunteers and others associated with the school. The Golden Gloves tournament, for the first time has allowed a public school to host the event. What makes it so special for all involved, is that Archimedes Academy is the only school in the public school system to have boxing as a curriculum for all its students.

“The school is a real breakthrough in the public school system. It exposes kids at an early age to boxing—it’s always been a dream of mine,” says John E. Oden, a principal of AllianceBernstein L.P., a global money management and research firm, and the author of White Collar Boxing – One Man’s Journey from the Office to the Ring.

This money manager played an important part in getting the boxing program initiated at Archimedes Academy. “My theory is that if we can get boxing in public schools, just like football, basketball, baseball and if the parents understand it, then kids get exposed to it at an early age,” he adds. “It will improve the sport of boxing and will get more participation. And bringing in the Golden Gloves brings in a great crowd of people, and in the same time, we’re trying to get the word out about Archimedes School and the program that it has for boxing, which is called the John E. Oden Boxing Scholars – it combines academics and boxing.”

Oden goes on to explain his humble beginnings--growing up in a small town in Texas, playing baseball, and getting into fights. “It was cowboy country, so you had to defend yourself,” he says.

The first fight is a knockout. The second fight is a hard fought battle – it goes to the score cards. The third fight is another knockout. “He doesn’t know where he’s at,” the referee says, to the stumbling fighter’s trainer.

The fourth fight seems like more of the same. The much taller and chiseled Christian Pineda of Yonkers YMCA gym, comes out swinging. Feeding off the crowd and thirst for another knock out, Pineda goes on attack. With jabs and combinations, he stalks the beleaguered Stacel Crenshaw of John’s Gym, located in the Bronx, for the kill.

It looks like a done deal within the second round. But Crenshaw is on his toes, working the body, ducking and blocking Pineda’s punches.

Then in the third round, Crenshaw pours it on. He connects at will. Pineda helplessly holds onto the ropes.
“The first round he came out strong,” the victorious Crenshaw now explains. “Fighters think with their brain - all good fighters who train hard, they’ll step it up. That’s what my trainer was telling me. The second round I had to step it up. The third round I had to keep throwing punches – and if they hit me, they gotta feel what I’m gonna bring.”

He flexes his thick arms. Why not? He is a winner today.

“I’m a strong lion,” he says, not slowing down. “They gotta feel what I bring. They punched me; I punched harder. That’s why I train six days out of the week.”

“Teddy Roosevelt was an undersized child, who everybody wanted to beat up all the time,” Oden weighs in. “He decided that he didn’t want to take it anymore, so he went out and learned how to box – and he started fighting back.”

The event at Archimedes Academy at the campus of I.S. 174 is a huge success in terms of attendance. “It’s great for the young kids,” observes New York City Councilmember Joe Rivera. “It represents a spirit in the school and it’s really opening the doors of opportunity for the Bronx.” 


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