After years of hard work and collaboration the Be First Boxing gym in Peekskill held an official ribbon cutting for their temporary space on Main Street Saturday afternoon.
Executive Director Westley Artope and Director of Training Fred Spry spoke at the event, thanking city officials, the department of parks and recreation, community members, the police department, their family and friends for helping to make the non-profit community boxing gym and youth program a reality. (Watch a video and read an article about the gym's programs and history here.)
The gym is currently operating out of 1137 Main Street, a building scheduled for demolition to make way for the city's planned central firehouse. The city is paying the utilities and allowing Be First to rent the space for free. The groups are working together to find a permanent and fitting location.
Artope told the crowd that he and the other volunteer trainers are dedicated to health and fitness of all community members and hope the gym helps fight childhood obesity and provide a positive activity for the city's young and adult residents.
Mayor Mary Foster presented Be First with a plaque and County Legislator John G. Testa presented the directors with a certificate at the ceremony.
Fred Smith played taps in honor of Fred Spry Sr., who originally started up the Be First Boxing program decades ago. Spry Sr. died 11 years ago and his son Fred Spry Jr. is proud to be continuing his father's dream. Comedian Jimmy Mack served as the master of ceremonies. After the ribbon cutting, community members had the opportunity to meet former world pro boxers, view a demonstration by Be First youth and enjoy performances by the Bartendaz and others.
Read about the boxing program and its history in And visit our Facebook page to view more photos of the Ribbon Cutting event and a Be First boxing class (and while you are on Facebook hit like to become a fan of Peekskill-Cortlandt Patch and receive helpful news and information on your newsfeed).