Old Pastime Uniting Families; Giving Tough Workout

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Father (Angelo Anello – 49) and Son (Dante Anello – 13) about to take a break during a workout session at TITLE Norwood – Photography by Matthew Cunha

For this project, I was asked to showcase all of my abilities. I shot video, photo and created graphics in addition to doing all of the reporting and trying to find cool characters.  This project put all of my abilities into a cool project on boxing 

By: Matthew Cunha

Norwood Mass. – In 1928, the Boston Garden opened its doors. Since then, “The Garden” has been torn down and replaced with the TD Garden. “The Garden” is now known as the home to the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins.

But way back in 1928 “The Garden” opened not to host basketball or hockey but as a boxing venue. It was designed by boxing promoter Tex Rickard and the first event was a boxing match.

In October, boxing returned to “The Garden” and Boston to host a world-class boxing event Matchroom Boxing USA. Despite an alleged slide of popularity in boxing in the U.S., it might not be dead.

“Boxing has always been popular in the Boston area. And now it is coming back. You see Mayweather, you see McGregor, you see all these mainstream fights that are coming out that are drawing of the biggest subscriptions on HBO. Everyone wants to see what it is all about and they are trying out the workouts and then they are realizing how fun they are. As a whole U.S. boxing is coming back,” said Alex Crede, manager of a local boxing club in Norwood.

“We have about doubled our membership in the past year and a half,” said Crede.

Crede is the manager of TITLE boxing club in Norwood and a former ice hockey college player at the University of Tampa where he studied business. Around the states, TITLE has opened 180 clubs including 15 in Massachusetts in its 10 years as a business.  30 more clubs are set to open in 2019 Crede said.

Members at Title include everyone from New England Patriot players to 80-year-old women. “We will see a lot of families come in. In 2018 you do not see it too often where you get to have families doing stuff together and boxing is a fun way where you have parents enjoying it and you have kids enjoying it. Males, females, everything, so it has kind of been the center where you see a family come in once and twice and week but they are all together and that’s the thing they do together now which is kind of cool.”

One of those families is the Anello’s. Father Angelo (49) and son Dante (13) recently did their first 60-minute workout together.

“I signed the whole family up, my daughter was here earlier today with a friend, she and I came here together a couple nights ago, and this is my son’s first night here. It is a great way for everyone to get a workout in together and kind of have a little family time too. It is all levels, all abilities,” said Angelo.

Angelo credits his daughter Gigi (17), for the idea. “She is in between sports seasons and wanted to do something to train in between. This is what she wanted to do.”

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Dante Anello in mid-swing as Angelo Anello continues his workout – Photography by Matthew Cunha

“It is going to be a little competition I guess, I don’t think I will come out on top very often,” Dante said.

Trainer at TITLE Norwood Prince Thornton (31) has been boxing since he was 13-years-old

“It is in my blood. My granddaddy boxed, my cousin boxed, my dad was a street fighter. It is something that I acquired over the years,” said Thornton. “It is something that comes naturally. It is something that is in me,” he said.

Thornton has been a trainer since August. He is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston and a former football player. After he finished playing football, Thornton said that he became overweight and it was boxing that helped him get out of it.

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Trainer Prince Thornton leading his class and taking some swings – Photography by Matthew Cunha

“People wanted me to help get themselves together like I did to myself,” Thornton said.

The intensity of the workout user’s experiences is part of the draw Crede said. “It has an edgy feel. You walk in a beating up on a heavy bag and getting a good workout all at the same time. In a one-hour class, you are going to burn up to 1000 calories, which is very hard to do and you are having fun while doing it and you are feeling a little tough which is always fun for people,” he said.

Angelo and Dante both said that the best part of the workout is that there is someone there to push you.

“It is a very intense workout because you keep going and going. You don’t stop. You do things that you have probably never done before,” Thornton said.

The workout at TITLE consists of three, eight-minute rounds of boxing. The facility at TITLE Norwood contains a boxing ring, but the workout requires no hits. “The bags don’t hit back,” Angelo said.

Injuries can still happen. Especially to the ones who do take the workout into the ring. An American Journal of Preventive Medicine study of the emergency room records of 100 U.S. hospitals found that emergency room visits from boxing injuries increased 211 percent from 1990-2008. Over 28 percent of the visits to emergency rooms caused by boxing injuries occurred to those ages 6-17.

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“The most concerning discovery from the study was the similar proportion of concussions/closed head injuries (CHIS) among the age groups (nine percent among 12-17-year-olds, eight percent among 18-24-year-olds and nine percent among 25-34-year-olds,” according to Science Daily.

With less force to the head thought to be attributed by younger boxers, the similar proportions are a cause for concern. With continuous blows to the head, and similar proportions of head injuries for youth among boxers to study attributes concerns about Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE, a degenerative brain disease, is known for its presence in former NFL players including Aaron Hernandez, former Patriots tight end who hung himself in prison. The CTE diagnosis is made only after death. Early symptoms affect a patient’s mood and behavior while later symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment and maybe even dementia.

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The disease was first discovered in the 1920s and first described in the scientific literature about boxers.

“All of the cases we have in our brain bank that have been diagnosed with CTE all have a history of repetitive head impacts. So multiple hits over time and not an isolated concussion,” research assistant at Boston University CTE Center Madeline Uretsky said.  “Boxing kind of fits that mold. They are getting hit in the head constantly every match.”

When it comes to kids, Uretsky said that based on the football studies, that starting boxing at a younger age would not be good for the brain based on the repetitive hits to the head.

“In terms of boxers, there are so many sports out there and ways to be physically fit and active. It really is a family decision. We can not make decisions for people but if we are going to go off the science, I would suggest holding off or finding another activity,” Uretsky said.

The best injury prevention technique is the right form and right technique said Crede. TITLE reiterates the right form and technique after member first join. TITLE also includes a stressing therapist on staff.

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When the Boston Garden opened in 1928, Mr. Rickard was probably not imagining a world where boxing was declining in popularity. He was also not probably imagining a world where people participated in boxing as a way to get a good workout.

“People are hearing how fun the workout is and how much it really is a brutal workout. You have people who are in the best shapes of their lives and then they come in and take a boxing class and they have never been more sore and tired in their life, in a good way though,” Crede said.

Mr. Rickard probably also did not imagine families using boxing as a time to bond. Trainer Prince Thornton thinks it is one of the best parts of being a trainer.

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Photography by Matthew Cunha

“Just to see them go at it, it brightens up my day, It just brightens up my day. I love it,  I enjoy it, it makes me happy. Sometimes I come in maybe a little stressful, but when I see them and I see people who are regular or I see people come in like the husband and wife. I always mess with them. They come in and there are happy. They are always smiling. It brings me joy,” Thornton said.

“People say that I motivate and inspire them, but actually they inspire me and motivate me to come to do what I do.”

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