‘Knocking Out’ Drug Abuse
Backers of a new boxing-focused community center for teens are hoping the sweet science will help fight drug abuse and bullying in the community.
Tammie Topel is teaming up with Northport High School math teacher Tammy Walsh, Walsh’s husband Greg Walsh, and personal trainer Colleen McManus to create the Right Combination Community Center. Topel said their goal is to create a safe, supervised place where teens and young adults can spend time with their friends, listen to music, play video games, do homework and work out.
Supporters of the plan will be at the John W. Engeman Theater on Dec. 8 to raise money for the endeavor during a performance of “White Christmas.” Food, drink and Chinese raffles will be available when doors open at 5 p.m.
Their first phase toward launching that diversified teen center is to open The Fitness Alley in a space tucked away, in the former home of the Inlet 60 Main St. in Northport. From there, they hope to expand and launch the full Right Combination Community Center in larger space with a full-service gym, more facilities for kids and a full boxing ring.
Topel said landlord Lee Holcomb is helping get the center off the ground by offering the space for “a nominal fee.”
Organizers hope the service model will steering teens away from drugs and combating bullying.
“[Boxing] can get you to a place where it replaces a drug high,” Topel said. “We’re hoping we can attract kids who have experimented or are considering experimenting.”
Greg Walsh, a former heavyweight boxer, said boxing has the potential to serve as a powerful deterrent to bullying on both ends of the spectrum. Not only could the training build the self-esteem and confidence of targets of bullying, it could also boost self-acceptance in the bullies.
“It’s a great confidence builder,” he said. “It’s not a matter of everybody’s going to be a fighter – the different life lessons you learn in the training aspect of it and everything else is huge.”
His wife Tammy, who serves with her husband on the Northport-East Northport Drug & Alcohol Task Force, said any resource that could steer kids clear of drugs and help those young people in recovery from addiction stay clean is a plus.
“We’ve lost a lot of kids – the Town of Huntington has been hit hard,” she said.
Topel said the center would be open as soon as they finalize their permits at Northport Village Hall. Fitness Alley could open the same day.