A local anti-violence organization is hosting a state-wide boxing tournament in Brooklyn on Saturday, with the victors moving toward the championship at Madison Square Garden.
The James E. Davis Foundation, named after the former City Councilman who was shot dead by a political opponent at City Hall in 2003, is run by Davis’ brother Geoff, who aims to use sports and recreation to get kids off the streets, where they could be exposed to crime and violence.
The boxing event will feature around 30 fighters, and will kick off at 5 p.m. at the Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Community Center in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.
“This is a tournament, and there’s about 4 more,” said Geoff Davis. “And then the ultimate finale is in Madison Square Garden.”
The non-profit organization helps run several different programs centered around character-building sports, such as basketball and boxing, in addition to charitable endeavors in their community.
“We give out scholarships, host memorials,” Davis said. “We have programs with the New Heights basketball program. We do water aerobics, archery.”
The ultimate goal, Davis says, is to get as many young New Yorkers off the streets, and into productive activities as possible in an effort to stop senseless violence, like that which took the life of his brother.
“Since we started the movement in the 80s, there’ve been many stop-violence organizations popping up around the city,” he said happily.
“Rather than just saying about stopping hate, we’re turning them into action, and getting these kids off the streets.”
Boxing in particular, he said, helps put troubled youth on a positively formative path for the future.
“Where would Mike Tyson be without boxing? Where would [Floyd] Mayweather be without boxing? Where would any of these prize fighters be if it wasn’t for boxing? They’d be on the street,” Davis said. “Boxing teaches you discipline, teamwork, punctuality — a wide range of inner growth. Plus, it’s healthy on your body.”
The organization used to host their events at various locations around the Big Apple, but since the late 2021 opening of the Major Owens community center, they’ve looked to utilize the repurposed armory. This will be the James E. Davis Foundation’s inaugural official event in the space.
“Crown Heights is very diverse, so we’re bringing an entire community together — it’s like the whole world is coming together.”
Named after the late Congressman Major Owens, who served the area from 1962 to 2003, the center brought a wide variety of recreational activities to the neighborhood, which lacks much access to parks — which Davis said was an important step towards diverting troubled youth.
“Thousands and thousands of people walk through those doors, and they’re all over the place — the basketball courts, the gym, the pool. And that’s thousands of people that are off the streets,” he said.
The boxing event on Saturday will last from 5 to 8:30 p.m., and will have a suggested donation of $25.
“There’s a suggested donation of $25, but of course we are not going to turn anyone away,” Davis said.
And, in addition to the important work of his organization, Davis has a uniquely personal attachment to this event, which will double as a tribute to his late brother, who had served as a police officer before his time in politics.
“We will be having a 10 bell salute in his memory, which is what they do for fallen boxers,” Davis said. “He fought in the golden gloves, so we saw this as ideal, and something special for his memory.”
For tickets, head to the James E. Davis website here.