Bleecker boxers’ drive to ‘Knockout The Vote’

Alicia "The Empress" Feliciano, the world super-welterweight boxing champion (sitting in truck window) and the Knockout The Vote team on Bleecker St. Photos by Clayton Patterson
Alicia “The Empress” Napoleon, the world super-welterweight boxing champion (sitting in truck window), and the Knockout The Vote registration truck and team on Bleecker St. Photos by Clayton Patterson

BY CLAYTON PATTERSON | The first time I encountered Joey Goodwin, he was fighting in the ring at an illegal underground boxing match. I’ve got to say, the kid can take a punch.

Joey grew up in Greenwich Village. He spent a large part of his teenage years hanging around the “The Cage,” the W. Fourth St. basketball courts, watching players like Lloyd “Swee’ Pea” Daniels, the NBA player considered the greatest wasted talent in the history of the game. Lloyd’s story is brilliantly told in the documentary “The Legend Of Swee’ Pea,” directed by Benjamin May and produced by Dan Levin.

Alice Torbush, left, and Joey Goodwin in front of The Clayton Outlaw Gallery on Essex St.

My next encounter with Soho Joey was a brief hello when Power Malu and Mike Sase invited me to screen my biopic “Captured” before one of their international invitational Bridge Runners events. Since a part of the run went through the Lower East Side, they wanted to give the visiting runners a taste of what the old neighborhood was like pre-gentrification. The screening was held at 9 Bleecker St., the old Yippie headquarters. It was my first glimpse inside No. 9 since Dana Beal and the Yippies lost the building. I learned Joey was the new proprietor of No. 9 and he was going to open Overthrow Boxing Club there.

A short time later, I got an official introduction to Soho Joe by Alice Torbush. Alice is the shadow, the barely mentioned, hard-working hero behind so much that happened when the Yippies ran No. 9. She did much of the editing, the layout and design of the underground Yipster Times and Overthrow newspapers. She paid the bills and kept the building operational. You can learn more about her history in the new Overthrow Boxing fanzine; Alice is one of the 12 featured Downtown luminaries. The fanzine’s launch date is Sept. 22 at 9 Bleecker St.

Power Malu knocking out the vote on Kenmare St. in front of La Esquina.

Alice brought me into Soho Joe’s office and laid out her feelings about the building being turned into a boxing center. She felt that was about as good as she could ever have hoped for. She was a competitive athlete in her younger days, so she was fine with sports. But, most important, she found a kindred spirit in Joey.

Joey wants to preserve as much of the legacy and ambiance of the old Yippie headquarters as he can. There are Overthrow newspaper covers on the walls, photos of Abbie Hoffman and Yippie posters, and Dana Beal, is a welcome frequent visitor.

Elsa Rensaa inside the Knockout The Vote truck, which is covered inside with a collage of photos including Abbie Hoffman and other Yippie figures.

A part of the spirit and legacy of 9 Bleecker lives on through Overthrow Boxing. The counterculture — or maybe now the counterpunch — is in full effect with Overthrow’s “Knockout The Vote” campaign.

True, it’s likely that Abbie Hoffman would be promoting something along the lines of Wavy Gravy’s “Nobody For President” concept. But Goodwin is really working to register people to vote. The Overthrow Action Mobile is out there hitting the streets. It’s a former ice cream truck painted semi-gloss black, highlighted with blue and red stars, with screaming slogans like “When They Go Low, We Go High.” The real attention-getters are the large full-color head shots of Trump getting a taste of his own medicine — that is, getting punched in the head. Inside, the truck is covered with a black-and-white photo collage of Yippie memorabilia.

Knockout The Vote is also giving out free swag, including T-shirts.

This eye-catching rolling political statement has the same provocateur flavor and full-on effect as Dana’s 51-foot-long inflatable joint that he shows up with at Hillary events, along with a letter, asking her to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Watch for this Overthrow voter-registration mobile as it cruises around the city, landing outside places like Trump Tower, Union Square, Clinton’s Brooklyn offices and Washington Square Park, carrying the message to VOTE.

They do not care who you vote for, but please vote. And they are giving away stickers and posters, which are sure to become collectables.

Yes, No. 9 has changed hands, but the spirit carries on.

In New York State, the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election is Oct. 14. The same date applies to registering by mail (must be postmarked by that date), in person or online.