By: Len Michaels SVS Writer and Roman Sotelo
More than 50 years have gone by since Al Silva promised Ted Delancy, a boxing trainer who helped Al stay out of troubled as a youth, that he would try to help others in need. (See Part I, Dec 2017 issue).
Al is still keeping his pledge as his Boxing Gym in Rock Falls has become a local icon of physical, mental and moral rebirth. Al stated, “Training for boxing builds confidence and self-esteem, and makes you want to do better and to be better. It builds character and you feel good about yourself.”
The gym has no fee structure, is not profit orientated and is financed solely through donations. Al recalled a man who onced introduced him, to his wife saying, “This is the man that helped me over some bad times when I was young. He helped me to become the man I am today.” Al mumbled with a lump in his throat “This is why I do these things. It’s not about the money.”
Besides working with referrals from schools or the courts, the gym serves a wide range of clients with different goals. Al said, “We have had kids as young as eight to a 60 year old woman wanting to improve themselves.
We have had attorneys and other professional men and women as well as blue collar workers and retirees. And then we have men and women interested in pursuing the sport of boxing.” The gym has been a family activity for many with many examples of several family members in the program together.
There are examples of three generations attending the gym. Some boxed as amateurs, some eventually went Pro. And most encouraging, there are examples of lives turned around.
Those interested in seeing a boxing exhibition and helping the club stay viable are invited to attend a benefit event scheduled for Sat., Feb 24 at the Latin American Club, 2708 W. Lincolnway in Sterling. Doors open @ 6pm with bouts starting @ 7pm. Families are welcome and tickets will be available at the door at a nominal cost.
For questions or sponsorship opportunities, contact Al Silva at 815-441-0487.