The kids, age 8 up to late teens, listened with wide eyes and open ears, as Vasyl Lomachenko, and Isaac Dogboe, and Jose Pedraza and Teofimo Lopez shared some words of encouragement and wisdom at the famed and fabled Gleason's Gym in DUMBO, Brooklyn, on Wednesday, three days away from their fights at Madison Square Garden.
The messages varied but all shared a similar thread—keep working, don't get down on yourself, keep fighting…in the ring and in the class room and in life.
Many of the kids are part of the Bruce Silverglade….
Give A Kid A Dream program—the Gleason's boss has a setup which looks to give kids from under-served neighborhoods and households that have to work hard to stay head above water a bit of a hand up. GAKAD sends kids to baseball games, and to the annual Gleason's Fantasy Camp, and gives them a place to train and receive input from mentors.
And on Wednesday, they heard from titans in the boxing industry who are enjoying star status or getting real near that place…people who have been there, ARE THERE, and command respect, for their deeds.
No one fiddled on their cell phone to distract themselves as the Top Rank gang held court. Media relations man Evan Korn of Top Rank did a solid job setting up the program, with the Gleason's crew…
Here is the release TR sent out early Wednesday evening:
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (Dec. 5, 2018) – WBA lightweight world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, WBO lightweight world champion Jose Pedraza, unbeaten WBO junior featherweight world champion Isaac Dogboe, unbeaten lightweight sensation Teofimo Lopez, and Italian heavyweight prospect Guido Vianello took a break from their last-minute fight preparations to head over to Gleason's Gym to speak to a group of youngsters from Give A Kid A Dream. The foundation provides mentorship opportunities to at-risk youth through boxing.
More than 30 children from the foundation were on hand as the fighters discussed the hard work required to become a world-class fighter. Each fighter demonstrated drills for the children, signed autographs, and gave a few lucky children in-the-ring tutorials.
Lomachenko and Pedraza also took a break to answer a few questions about Saturday's showdown. This is what they had to say.
On training camp
“I had a really good camp. I am looking forward to getting back in the ring on Saturday. Madison Square Garden is my favorite place to fight. It is like another home for me. It is a very special place.”
On recovery from torn labrum suffered during Linares bout and fighting through pain
“I am 100 percent. I feel good. When the injury happened, I was mentally prepared to deal with it. I still had my feet. I still had another hand. I am very competitive. I feel like when you step in the ring, you need to finish the fight.”
On Pedraza as a fighter and what he'll bring to the table
“Nobody knows yet. I've had a long rest. Now, I load a new program into my head. We'll see what happens.”
On recovering and resting following the surgery
“It was good for me to rest. I have been boxing since I was a child. I had a lot of competition. It was my first rest and first big vacation in my life.”
“The time is almost here. The desire to win is very high. I have visualized all the possible scenarios. I’ve seen myself winning, I’ve seen myself knocking him out, I’ve seen myself pulling out the victory coming from behind. The closer the fight approaches, the more I see myself with my hands held high and with the two titles on my shoulders. I already fulfilled my goal of becoming a world champion, and now I’m going after the goal of unifying titles.”
“The titles will return to Puerto Rico with me. I know that it will not be an easy fight. I will be facing one of the best fighters in the world. He has tremendous skills, but I know that I also have great skills and the necessary focus to come out with the victory. Puerto Rico deserves a moment of happiness. I’m going to do it for them, and my family.
Others in attendance included analyst Crystina Poncher…
…and Abel Sanchez..
trainer to Italian heavyweight Guido Vianello (below)…
and Brooklyn-born Lopez…
…and the newly hatched star Dogboe (pic by Williams)…