Bettinelli's Community Boxing Academy

350 Higbie Lane West Islip, NY 631-412-3686

Vinny Giachetti, 14, of Farmingdale a student in

(Credit: Susye Greenwood)

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Type: Boxing gym Description:

Building up young people -- in both body and spirit -- has been the focus of Bettinelli's Community Boxing Academy since it opened in 2004.

"We give them tools to become champions in life," says director Ray Bettinelli. "There's no pressure to do anything but train like a champion. No one is forced into the ring."

BCBA is a nonprofit, two-month course for kids between 10 and 17 that includes one-hour sessions twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays called D.R.I.F.T. (Devotion, Respect, Integrity, Fairness, Temperance) Youth Empowerment Program at the Westbrook Elementary School in West Islip. Kids are taught the proper boxing stance, six punches (jabs, hooks, uppercuts) and defense strategies by certified USA boxing coaches.

"We don't let the kids use the word 'fight' in the gym. We don't fight, we box. There's a big difference," says Bettinelli. "It's a good, solid, structured, clean, safe environment that they gravitate to."

D.R.I.F.T. graduates get a free gym membership they can use until they are 18. Those who show promise can work toward competing.

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