It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child, and the City of Reading will have a chance to support its youth on Saturday as Star City Boxing hosts the “Peace & Gloves” boxing event.
The free event is a block party that will take place at Fifth and Penn streets with entertainment starting at 1 pm and the first of 18 slated boxing bouts beginning at 3:30 pm
On Wednesday, Reading Mayor Eddie Moran visited Star City Boxing to speak to the athletes on hand regarding “Peace & Gloves” and the goal of uniting the Reading community through amateur boxing.
“There’s a saying that says it takes a village to raise a child,” Moran said. “This is a prime opportunity for the village of Reading to come together and support our youth so they know that they’re not alone, and that together we can build a better Reading.”
Fighters ages 9 to 33 will participate in three-round fights at “Peace & Gloves.” The length of the rounds will vary.
Eric Martinez, 17, of Reading will square off in the main event against 16-year-old Dennis Thompson of Philadelphia. Martinez is fourth in the nation in USA Boxing’s Youth Men’s Rankings at 57 kg (125 pounds), while Thompson is ranked eighth at 54 kg (119 pounds).
“I’m blessed to be the main event in this real big event,” Martinez said. “We haven’t had an event in a couple months, but I feel like this one is just a little bit different because we’re going to bring the community together.”
Moran said that he believes “Peace & Gloves” will promote positivity and unity throughout the Reading area as a response to the violence that occurred in Reading earlier in the summer.
“This is truly something that I had hoped and dreamed for,” Moran said. “To see the community come together in a very peaceful manner, promoting positivity, bringing unity in our community, creating synergy, which I often speak about.
“Earlier in the summer, when unfortunately, some violence was occurring in our community, I came out and I asked for a violence prevention outreach from the community. And I even spoke with, at that time, (City) Council President (Jeffrey) Waltman to make available up to a million dollars for violence prevention.”
According to Moran, city resources were used to help organize and fund “Peace & Gloves,” as were sponsorships from local businesses.
“Star City was able to obtain a lot of sponsorships,” Moran said. “But yes, the city is utilizing some of that (violence prevention) funding for the event with some of the resources being provided for this event. It was definitely something that we jumped on immediately.”
Moran went on to explain that advocating for the youth of Reading has always been a priority of his, and that he is proud of the progress Star City has made in being a positive outlet for the city.
“Supporting the youth has always been a goal of mine,” Moran said. “Even before my time as mayor, I had a relationship with Star City as a school board member; youth is very important to me. I always try to think of decision-making that is going to affect the future. So planting seeds and seeing them come to fruition is something I take a lot of pride in.
“I’ve worked alongside Star City for many years. They have an annual cleanup, which brings a great deal of support from the community. But most importantly, they are always here, day in and day out, to make sure our kids have a safe haven to find themselves in.”
For Maximiliano Baez III, 18, who will compete in the 2022 National Golden Gloves competition in Tulsa, Okla., on Monday after fighting Saturday, “Peace & Gloves” will highlight the impact Star City has made on its boxers.
“I’m excited,” Baez said. “I really think it’s going to be a good turnout; a big turnout. I think a lot of people are going to understand that like — some people, when they look at boxing, they look at violence — but it’s really not that. It’s really like, (when) you come in here, you’re meeting a new family and you’re building relationships or friendships.”