Shirley middleweight Le'Shawn Rodriguez (center), with trainer Eddie Murphy (right).

Shirley middleweight Le'Shawn Rodriguez (center), with trainer Eddie Murphy (right). Credit: Atlantic-Memorial Veteran's Boxing Club

The path of highly touted amateur middleweight Le’Shawn Rodriguez is beginning to take shape.

The 20-year-old resident of Shirley is currently the No. 1-ranked amateur middleweight in the country and earned that status after taking home the gold medal at the Olympic Cup in Puerto Rico last month.

Next for Rodriguez is a trip to Santiago, Chille at the end of August to compete in the Continental Championships, which serves as a qualifier for the World Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan in October.

Rodriguez, who trains at Atlantic-Veteran’s Memorial Boxing Club in Shirley, leaves for the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs on August 19.

Rodriguez isn’t the only Veteran’s Gym member getting the accolades. His trainer, Eddie Murphy (pictured right), was chosen as one of the coaches for the U.S. team at the Continental Championships.

Murphy said that getting his boxers the proper training and getting them to and from many of these tournaments has been difficult because of a lack of funding. 

"With the budget cuts and elimination of youth funding by the Town of Brookhaven we are going to be depending on our fundraising and help from our community businesses and organizations like the American Legion - Wilson Ritch Post 432 of Port Jefferson Station, the Subway at Shirley, Smoke Signals of Mastic and especially the South Shore Press,” Murphy said.

The coach also mentioned Shirley Auto Body and the Five Five 2 Restaurant in St. James as local businesses committed to helping the gym.

Said Murphy: "We keep kids off the streets and out of trouble and away from the lure of street gangs through the most disciplined sport of amateur boxing. We create champions in boxing and in life."

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