PAL boxing program to shut down, parents and boxers upset

PAL boxing program to shut down, parents and boxers upset

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Players and coaches say they felt sucker punched by the news of the Toledo Police Athletic League's boxing program shutting down.

"It's depressing that it's closing down," Anthony Clark, a PAL boxer. "We really don't know," said Clark.

"It sucks," added Jacob Ball, another youth in the program.

Here's some of the numbers that made the decision for the PAL Board.

PAL has a number of programs like baseball, basketball and boxing, which is their most expensive program. They have a little more than 230 kids involved in their program which offers tutoring, coaching and police interaction.

Of those more than 200 students, a little more than 30 are in boxing. Boxing costs about $48,000 a year for the program run entirely by fundraisers and gr ants.

But despite these numbers, PAL boxers and their parents think this is the wrong move.

"It breaks my heart," said Jared Anderson, an Olympic hopeful boxer who started in the PAL program. "It makes me think that everybody's giving up on the kids in the community and they don't care anymore."

Jared Anderson joined PAL when he was just eight-years-old. Ten years later, he credits his training, discipline and success to the program. He says PAL turned his life around and made him an Olympic hopeful.

"It changes lives," Anderson said. "It helps people become men and women and it doesn't just keep them out of trouble from day to night, it really helps you change as a person."

His mom says before PAL, Jared was a troublemaker. She says they taught him hard work and commitment.

"For me it was a blessing," explained Deborah Anderson, Jared's mom. "It was a God sent because like I said he was the youngest of five kids, the one that I had the most behavioral issues from. And I was at a loss for what to do for him."

While Jared will continue his boxing career next month at the Olympic Training Camp, other young hopefuls are not sure what will be next.

They know they love boxing.

"I love the practice and the running," Clark said.

"It's like you meet new people everyday," added Daron Webb, a PAL boxer.

"It's just to keep me out of trouble in the streets like when I am walking," said Ta'ron Garmon, another PAL boxer.

Coaches at the gym were notified of the closing last Thursday.

Leaders of the program say they're sad to see boxing go, but it must happen to make sure the other PAL programs can contribute to operate.

They plan to auction off the boxing equipment and  re-purpose the boxing space in their gym off Manhattan Boulevard to create a more self-sufficient future.

With the additional space leader believe they can host tournaments as well as add new programs like volleyball.

PAL boxing will spar for the last time this Friday, but the boxers, parents and coaches say they aren't down for the count yet.

They want to fight for the program in the future.

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