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El Maestro is more than a gym

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I board the #6 train to the Bronx and get off at the Whitlock Avenue stop. As I walk to my destination, I listen to the busy car traffic and the sounds of people working in garages and businesses in the area. Within minutes, I’m in another world. I’m inside a community treasure: El Maestro. Some refer to this place as “Juan Laporte’s Boxing Gym,” named after Laporte who was a boxing champion in the early 1980’s. But the gym located at 1029 East 167th Street doesn’t serve only as a gym. It’s also a cultural and educational oasis for those with an interest in Puerto Rican and Latino themes. The center is an endeavor aimed at transforming a social void into a valuable community space. It serves as a social and cultural center for the entire community. It’s a place for community members to socialize and participate in ongoing programs and activities for children, teenagers and adults. Among the cultural programs that take place at El Maestro are: “Puerto Rican Roots Music performances