|Print this story||Permalink|
Since his Astoria fitness center opened last April, Burchette has practically lived at the gym 12 hours a day, seven days a week, teaching scores of teens and pre-teens how to take control of their lives through boxing.
The gym has yet to turn a profit, so the 50-year-old has spent the past year in financial dire straits. It would have closed by now if not for his business partner's generosity and financial savvy.
"The truth is, he's doing something great," said Georgia Fuiaxis, co-owner of Punch and a successful real estate broker. He has helped Burchette run the gym at a loss and recently got it tax-exempt by applying for non-profit status.
"Our main vision and goal basically is to help at-risk kids. ... Everyone wants something that they can belong to," Fuiaxis said last week at the gym on Broadway. "That's why they're attracted to gangs. We're trying to counteract that."
And so far they've been able to, getting about 120 children enrolled in the gym's after-school program.
When Burchette's not putting his charges through grueling workouts in the ring, he's badgering them about their school work and helping them choose classes in which they can excel.
"I really like it. He's a good coach and everything - like a second father," said Elliott Figueroa, 16.
Last year, Fadmir Guri brought his 16-year-old to Burchette's gym and asked the fitness expert to train him as a fighter. The boy, Femi Guri, has been obsessed with boxing since he was a child and refused to stick with any other sports his father enrolled him in.
Eight months later, Femi is one of Burchette's prized pupils and recently won a silver medal in the junior Olympics. While Fadmir was at first nervous about his son boxing ("It's a heavy sport"), he has since been won over.
"He's doing good, I think. He's doing a good job," he said, watching his son spar on a recent afternoon. The "gym is beautiful. I am so happy. Frankie help him so much. He's a nice coach."
Burchette, a former Army drill instructor and amateur boxer, worked as a trainer at Equinox Fitness Club in Manhattan for nearly a decade. In the '90s he helped movie stars such as Julia Roberts and Daniel Day Lewis get fit for their roles.
While that life was rewarding, he never felt satisfied. He wanted a job where he could impact people's lives and help them sculpt more than just their bodies.
While he has struggled the past year, he said it has been worth it.
"Days that I'm sad, days that I'm down, these kids get me out of the bed in the morning," he said.
He's gearing up to stage his second annual summer boxing camp and is looking to privately raise $500,000 in donations.
For more information, call 718-726-4303, or visit the gym at 14-143 Broadway in Astoria.
Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
|Print this story||Permalink|
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.