by Art Cusano
PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Hundreds turned out Saturday afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of Peekskill Be First Boxing’s first permanent home in years.
The team, which was restarted three years ago after being defunct for years, is already running boxing and fitness classes out of the building at 1137 Main Street several days a week and is looking to add more in coming months.
The day started with a ribbon-cutting ceremony with members of the Peekskill Common Council and other elected officials including Westchester County Legislator John Testa (D – Peekskill) and State Sen. Greg Ball (R,C,I – District 40).
Testa later presented the team with a proclamation on behalf of the county.
Wes Artope, the team’s executive director, who was joined by his wife Clara, his mother and children, told those on hand that he was grateful for the support of the city leaders and community. The team’s number one goal was the health and wellbeing of the city’s young people, he said.
“Our youth are our future,” Artope said. “We want to be their example so this is what this building is about. That’s why we have all these volunteers here, because they believe in our goals.”
Artope and coach Fred Spry Jr. also led team members in a display of their pugilistic skills.
This weekend’s five-hour event drew not only area elected officials but scores of boxing and entertainment personalities.
Members of the Bartendaz fitness team shook everything but martinis in a display of their intense workout routine and even got several young team members involved.
Also on hand for the event were several high-profile professional boxers including 1984 Olympic gold medalist and actor Mark Breland and Renaldo Snipes, who fought Larry Holmes for the world heavyweight championship. Also on hand were Iran “The Blade” Barkley, Aaron “Superman” Davis, Tracy Patterson, Richard Burton, and Keith “The Brooklyn Assassin” Mullings, a former WBC light middleweight world champion.
Louis Marciano, the younger brother of legendary boxer Rocky Marciano, also stopped by to donate some pictures to the Peekskill Be First Boxing program.