Movie boxing ring finds a home in the Hill District

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⅔⅔⅔A little bit of Hollywood and a lot of training — in athletics and life — will be available to young people who take advantage of a new boxing gym in the Hill District that has opened in the Centre Avenue YMCA.

The gym, at 2621 Centre Ave., which celebrated a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday evening, includes the boxing ring used in the recent filming here of the movie “Southpaw,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The Weinstein Co. the movie’s production company, donated the ring.

With the boxing ring and the free weights, cardio machines and the latest strength and conditioning equipment, young people who come to the gym will learn a lot about boxing but even more about life, said Jim Cvetic, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League, or WPAL, which is operating the 11,000-square-foot facility along with the Y of Greater Pittsburgh.

“Boxing is just a metaphor,” said Mr. Cvetic, who also is the director of the Western Pennsylvania Golden Gloves. “The kids who come to the gym are going to be able to handle any adversity. We’re going to teach them to respect themselves, to have pride in themselves.

”When they’re with me, they’re not getting into trouble.”


Y officials said the organization continues to expand programs and services in the Hill District “to give residents the opportunity to learn and grow and to help the neighborhood thrive.”

Mr. Cvetic — who operates boxing gyms in the North Side, Downtown, Braddock, McKeesport and Boyce Park — said that in the gym, young people will learn core values and skills necessary to develop into mature and responsible adults.

“I think it’s important to teach people to become champions in their own lives,” said Mr. Cvetic, who was an adviser for “Southpaw.” “We’re teaching kids to look over the horizon to see the word ‘hope.’ ”

Silent motivators in the gym include photographs of boxing greats Joe Louis, Billy Conn, Sugar Ray Robinson and Fritzie Zivic, who once plied their trade in that very location, as well as the words “honor” and “fidelity” and those of other laudable values that are literally written in stone.

In addition to coaches from the WPAL, police officers will regularly be at the gym to interact with the youth, said Mr. Cvetic, a retired Allegheny County detective.

“We’ll be setting a standard for people. We are the City of Champions, and that just doesn’t mean the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Pirates or the Penguins,” he said.

Michael A. Fuoco: or 412-263-1968.

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