HILL DISTRICT (KDKA) – Boxing was big when the old YMCA in the Hill District was constructed in 1922.
That ended decades ago, but hard work by an ex-police officer and local residents has brought the old gym back.
Boxers at the Centre Avenue YMCA hung up their gloves 43 years ago. The boxing gym was preserved only in photographs, until now.
Former police officer Jimmy Cvetic cut the ribbon for the refurbished gym on Wednesday. The ring was donated by the film crew for a recent shoot called “Southpaw.”
It’s one of many gyms Cvetic has reopened through the Police Athletic League as a message of hope.
“There’s no such thing as a bad kid. Just give him a chance,” Cvetic said.
Executive Director Aaron Gibson teamed up with Cvetic to make the old building new again.
“We wanted to have that old-school retro look, but the newness about it is the equipment that we have,” Gibson said.
The ex-cop admits he was no angel, as a kid.
“I played hooky 47 days, all right. And the only reason I got caught playing hooky is I was caught shoplifting,” Cvetic said.
Amonte Eberhardt,23, was a troubled teenager when he met Cvetic, eight years ago.
“The direction I was going in, I was going to wind up dead or in jail,” Eberhardt said.
The kid from the streets became state Golden Gloves champion.
“I’m an undefeated pro right now. I’m 2-0. I’m also going to school, trying to get my education,” Eberhardt said.
He’s enlisting in the Navy to help pay his way. His mentor says he’s now working with his third generation of kids on the rise.
“I’m looking at Beechwood. I’m looking at Garfield, I’m looking at Lawrenceville. I’m looking at Homewood, and then I’m going to take it easy,” Cvetic said.
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