WOODSIDE, N.Y. – Filipino American Charlie Joseph, a former cage fighter, trains professional fighters at his own gym, the Woodside Boxing Academy in Queens on weekdays.
But on Sundays, he trains kids from 4 to 13-years-old, free of charge, to inspire them to become fit and perhaps become future champions.
“Funny how we’re using fighting to bring everybody together,” he said.
Born in Sta. Ana, Manila to a Filipina mom and an American Navy father, Joseph moved to the US at a young age to chase his American dream.
“I came here when I was 12. I grew up in New York and I’ve been in New York ever since,” he said.
At 27, he turned to Brazilian jiu jitsu and became known as Charlie “The Fight Monkey” Joseph in “Combat in the Cage.”
As an amateur, he was the middleweight belt holder with eight wins and no loss, before he turned pro with a record of two wins and one loss.
“What I do with my life, my gift to the world is that I hurt people, and I go on a ring and I beat people up. This is what we do. So whatever we can do with our, what we call gifts, we try to help back out,” he said.
He hung up his gloves three years ago and last year, Joseph and his team turned an old gym into the Woodside Boxing Academy, where it’s never too early to learn the craft of boxing. Kids as young as 4 years old are welcome to train here.
Chellamar Bernard, a trainer and Joseph’s childhood friend, said, “The plan is basically to equip these kids with a sense of confidence, conditioning, and self defense.”
Jack McMorrow, 9, said, “It’s a better way for kids to get out and have a little fun but at the same time, learn how to defend yourself.”
Joseph says thanks to Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao, he found his American dream.
“I’m very happy that Manny Pacquiao is in my life, that he’s still boxing and making this sport exciting for everybody to want to come and learn it,” he said.
A running video of Pacquiao fights plays in the gym as he tells his students that Pacquiao is the greatest boxer in the world, not just because of his talent in the ring but because of his humility.
“I think that’s really the number one thing about Manny Pacquiao, what draws people to him, you know, what makes him such an inspiration not just for Filipino people, but for everyone,” he said.
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