Posted Saturday morning, August 19, 2017.
“Mr. Kelly encouraging (and possibly insulting) a client doing padwork in Mr. Kelly’s gym. Credit Anthony Geathers for The New York Times.”
I can’t resist a good boxing story. This is a good boxing story. It’s also a story about gentrification. It’s a good story about gentrification. People with money move into a neighborhood because they’re drawn by the neighborhood’s character, then, to their dismay, they and their money change the neighborhood’s character. They’re followed by people with more money who are drawn by the changes. And those people usually don’t like what’s left of the neighborhood’s “character.” Meanwhile, the money and demand drive up the rents and the people who gave the neighborhood “character” can’t afford to live there or run businesses there anymore. They find themselves in the position of Eric Kelly, trying to keep his boxing gym “authentic” while having to cater to a clientele of dilettantes. But you can’t include a paragraph like this and expect your readers to focus on the sociological as well as the pugilistic:
Mr. Kelly grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, in the 1980s. He was the nation’s No. 1 amateur boxer in 1998, and was an alternate on the 2000 United States Olympic team in Syndey. His career was cut short by a pool hall fight — Mr. Kelly offended a hustler who then lodged a pool cue in Mr. Kelly’s left eye socket, leaving permanent nerve and muscle damage. “I got caught up in the streets,” Mr. Kelly said. “I never really wanted to get my eye fixed because it shows me where I’ve been, what I’ve lost and how I got to that point, and I don’t want to lose anymore. This is a reminder, a keepsake, a token, but it keeps me honest, and the ladies say it adds character.”
To read all of Jaime Lowe’s good boxing story that’s also a good story about gentrification, follow the link to The South Bronx Boxing Gym at the Center of Gentrification at the New York Times.