Aug. 4—Star City Boxing will host a "Peace & Gloves" boxing event on Saturday, Aug.13, to showcase local talent and help unite the Reading community through amateur boxing.
The block party will take place at Fifth and Penn streets with entertainment starting at 1 p.m. and the first of 18 slated boxing bouts beginning at 3:30 p.m.
"My goal is to unite the city, especially the youth from all over the city," said Alex Betances, owner and founder of Star City. "I have been able to get participation from all of the boxing gyms in Reading, and that is a very important component to the day.
"A lot of these kids run into different problems throughout the years, so I think if I get them to unite and they have something in common through boxing, when they find themselves in the presence of problems, issues or whatever they may be, boxing might be the diffusion that goes into guys saying, 'I know you from here.' "
Fighters ages 9 to 33 will participate in the three-round fights with the round length varying by age classification.
The main event will be between 17-year-old Eric Martinez of Reading and 16-year-old Dennis Thompson of Philadelphia. Other notable local boxers scheduled to participate include Reading residents Heriberto Garcia, 33, who competed in the regional round of the Pennsylvania Golden Gloves boxing tournament; and Maximiliano Baez III, 18, who recently competed in the National Junior Olympics alongside Martinez.
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). Although the two are in different weight classes, Betances said that minor differences in weight are allowed for locally sanctioned fights.
"Eric just competed about a month ago at the Junior Olympics and made it all the way to the championship; he should have won, but didn't." Betances said. "It's going to be an exciting fight and they (the winner) will be receiving a belt for that."
In addition to the boxing, "Peace & Gloves" will offer live music from local artists, as well as other entertainment. Betances said he is in the process of finding vendors and collecting sponsorships to help support the gym.
"It's a free event for the community but we still need sponsorships because the money that we raise goes towards the program and facilitating these kids to be able to travel to different tournaments throughout the United States," Betances said. "That's what they need in order to get to the next level."
Star City Boxing has participated in a number of community outreach events, including the National Youth Violence Prevention Week, which was held throughout Berks County in April, and also hosted a "Box Out the Violence" event in November to help stop local gun violence.
Bringing people together by being a positive outlet for youth culture is a core mission of the gym, according to Betances.
"We want to be able to unite the city; to this day that's been our main goal," Betances said. "A free event for the community also allows the families and extended families of the participants to come and see what they've been working on for years."