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Local Gym Owner Helping “Southpaw” Crew Find Local Boxers To Serve As Extras

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

CRAWLEY Dave Crawley
Dave Crawley joined KDKA in April of 1988 where he reports on the...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A film crew was in Carrick again today, shooting scenes for the Jake Gyllenhaal movie called “Southpaw.”

When they needed young boxers to serve as extras, the call went out a man who knows where to find them. Jimmy Cvetic also knows how to help kids change their lives. The tough ex-cop with a soft heart found bit parts for young boxers.

The Third Avenue Gym downtown is one of eight boxing gyms opened by the man who founded the Southwest Pennsylvania Police Athletic League.

He opened the first one in the ‘70s using his overtime pay. And he’s still operating on what he calls “a shoestring and a prayer.”

The 32-year Pittsburgh Police veteran recalls his first arrest: a boy in Lawrenceville.

“He didn’t make it until he was 15-years-old. Some creeps gave him some drugs. And that always bothered me, because I felt that, you know the adage, it takes a village to raise a kid. We are the village,” he says.

Former pro boxer Gary Winmon credits his mentor with lifting him from the streets.

“Jimmy has a good eye, you know, he can read you,” Winmon says. “You open up to him more.”

“When you come to me, what I expect, when you’re with me, you’re out of trouble,” Cvetic says.

When the movie crew is finished, they’ll donate a brand new boxing ring.

Cvetic is grateful to those who have helped, including a Dominican nun who knocked some sense into a kid who always got in trouble.

“She punched me in the back of the head,” he recalls. “Kind of knocked me from Sweet Opportunity to Amazing Grace. I always found there’s a wakeup call for you kid.”

He’s been paying it forward ever since.

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