Showing posts with label elmaestro bronx thebronx newyorkcity culturalcenter ismaelnunez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label elmaestro bronx thebronx newyorkcity culturalcenter ismaelnunez. Show all posts

Sunday, March 29, 2009

El Maestro is more than a gym

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 (monthly), Afro-Puerto Rican Roots Dance & Percussion Classes (weekly), Resident Musical Ensembles (weekly rehearsals), Educational Video Presentations (monthly), Art Exhibitions (monthly), and Spoken Word/Poetry Open Mic and Showcase (monthly). It’s a busy place for sure.
There is also a little league baseball team and softball league El Maestro sponsors.
At the gym, participants learn to box and work on getting in shape. The gym membership fee: $50.

Coto Talavera, head trainer at the gym, says, “The success is not when an individual wins a title.”
The gym has served as a perfect place for members of several boxing members of the NYPD Boxing Team and the FDNY Boxing Team to work out.
“I come here often to train,” said a police officer at the gym who did not want to be identified. “Everything is clean and in complete order; there are no fights. I recommend every Police Athletic League in the city to come here.”
Naralie Pacheco, a female boxing champion and trainer at the gym, said, “When I train fighters here, I demand respect not just to me but for all, and that’s why this place is so special for the community because there is respect.”
For more information about El Maestro, e-mail or call (646) 337-6775. –- Ismael Nunez

(photos by Ismael Nunez)