El Maestro, Inc./ Juan Laporte Boxing Gym is a grass-roots, not-for-profit which receives no funding and survives through the love and dedication of its founder, Fernando "Ponce" Laspina, and his brother, Pedro. They train both men and women boxers from the neighborhood, as well as mentor and counsel children and families.
One special success story is the gym's "dream couple" - pro boxer, Jose Rodriguez "Silver Boy," and his Golden Glove champ fiance, Natalie Pacheco. Jose was a troubled kid who was saved from gangs and the street through the love and guidance of Ponce and Pedro. Today he and his fiance work out and train together at the gym and are looking at a bright, positive future. You can see them and some more pictures here: http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=2kqoc2fu.23qfl0h2&x=0&y=-u5ynci&localeid=en_US
What we are seeking is to raise (get ready) $30,000. and will begin a five day on-site project to refurbish the gym/center. Our goal is to create a safe, beautiful space that serves their needs for the services and programs that they provide. We aim to create a study area, a dance area, an office area with computers, a refurbished gym area, better storage spaces and a permanent outside wall (currently it is a rolling metal garage door).
The needs are great, but our hearts and hopes are greater.
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El Maestro is a cultural and educational oasis in the heart of the South Bronx named in honor of Puerto Rican Patriot, Don Pedro Albizu Campos (aka "El Maestro'), where all aspects of Puerto Rican culture, history, and identity are nurtured, developed, and made availabe to the community of New York City. We focus on grassroots community activism as a means of strengthening our community.
The mission of El Maestro is to preserve the identity, history, and cultural legacies of the Puerto Rican Community for the benefit of our future generations and to the benefit of society and the world. Since its foundation, the center has been developing a series of events and activities, which focus on traditional and contemporary Puerto Rican cultural expressions such as music, dance, and literature.
For Puerto Ricans, whose immigrant and settlement experience has been one of displacement rather than assimilation, the creation of community rooted institutions like the Cultural and Educational Center, El Maestro, has enabled some level of control over our immediate environment and, in the process, makes it possible for us to rediscover and reconnect with our identity, our history and cultural heritage. Institutions like El Maestro help stabilize and revitalize our communities.
El Maestro is a community endeavor to transform a social void into a valuable community space. Because El Maestro functions as a social and cultural center for the entire community, it is a safe environment where the whole family can safely socialize and participate in our ongoing programs and activities, while reinforcing the most valuable ties, which unite them. It is a haven for citizens of all nationalities.
Cultural & Artistic Development Program (CADP):
El Maestro: Cultural and Educational Center provides members with resources and facilities to develop cultural and artistic skill and abilities. The Program includes a vareity of on-going artistic workshops and activities:
Juan LaPorte (b. 1959) Golden Gloves champ: 1976 (112-lb. sub-novice) World champ: Won the WBC featherweight title in 1982, defeating Mario Miranda LaPorte defeated Ricky Brown in 1976 to win the Golden Gloves championship. He was given a title shot against WBC featherweight champion Salvador Sanchez in 1980, but lost a unanimous decision. In 1982, he had another shot to fight Sanchez for the featherweight crown, but the match was canceled when Sanchez died in a car accident. LaPorte fought Mario Miranda for the vacant title at Madison Square Garden, and Miranda stopped the fight from his corner before the 11th round.