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Youth Boxing Club Is on the Ropes

March 03, 1994|RICHARD WINTON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

In its run-down warehouse where sunlight can't pierce the grimy windows, an Alhambra boxing club has become a place where youths who are struggling to stay out of trouble learn not only about jabbing but also about self-esteem and hope.

Now, the nonprofit club, which also sponsors a 10-week Toastmasters public speaking program for youths, is fighting to survive.

"I don't know where next month's rent will come from," said Antonia Tellez, 47. She and her husband, Rudy, a 47-year-old former boxing manager, opened the club in July, 1991, with $3,000 of their own money and donations. It offers boxing instruction and a safe place to go for youths who might otherwise end up in gangs.

Funds began to dry up in December when the city stopped paying the $1,100 monthly rent on the club's South Palm Avenue warehouse. The city had agreed to provide the first year's rent at the site, the club's third home in three years. A $2,500 grant from Pacific Bell was exhausted last month, leaving the club with $500 a month from the county probation service to pay the rent and bills.

Youths at the club say they probably will be on the streets and involved in gangs and tagging without it. The club name was even changed recently from the Alhambra Youth Boxing Club to the West San Gabriel Youth Athletic Club to attract sponsors wary of boxing's connotations of violence , but to no avail.

Although city officials praise their efforts, the Tellezes say they have been offered nothing more than a loan this year. City officials say they have already paid $11,000 in rent and cannot continue to do so.

The club started with more than 250 youngsters. But today, after relocating twice to smaller facilities, the club's membership is down to 109.

It began in a vacant warehouse on South Raymond Avenue. It then moved to another warehouse owned by Southern California Edison Co. on Marengo Avenue. Edison later sold the property and the club moved again in January, 1993.

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