“Two weeks into it, he came to me, tears running down his face,’’ Fraza said. “He had nowhere to go, nowhere that made him feel good about himself. I let him back in and he learned. We aren’t training bullies here. We don’t want that.’’
For personal reasons, Fraza has been less active in the club recently, but his father still works with Ferguson and the other coaches.
“I got out a few times in the past few weeks and took the kids to a couple of bouts,’’ said the elder Fraza, 81, a trainer and ex-boxer. “I want to try to do what I can.’’
Going back to the 1970s, boxing took Haverhill kids off the streets and gave them a productive place to go. In his best-selling memoir “Townie,’’ Andre Dubus III wrote about training at a club downtown, a gym that lasted until its money ran out.
“For the past two years, we have applied to and been turned down by the city Community Development Block Grant, administered through the Haverhill Community Development Department,” Amari said of efforts to get federal money for the boxing club.
The club, under its new name, has held two tag days to raise money.
“We had over 200 members, but without a place to call home and train, we’ve dropped to about 40 people,’’ Ferguson said. “The place we had on High Street was great. It was right in the neighborhood close to where a lot of the members lived. It got those kids off the street, and gave them a place to go to, somewhere they could do something they enjoyed and stay out of trouble.’’