The Undisputed Champions Program, a unique non-contact boxing program for kids with autism and other disabilities, will be holding a showcase Thursday, December 14 at 1:00pm at SCHOTT’S BOXING, 21 Vatrano Road in Albany NY.
The program is part of Wildwood School’s adapted physical education program. Head Coach, Javier Martinez, a retired undefeated professional fighter and a police officer with the Colonie Police Department, volunteers and leads the class of 17 students along with professional fight judge Tom Schreck. A team of volunteer coaches works side by side with the students.
Many people hear the term “disability” and they immediately feel sorry for the individual who they believe must be limited in what they can experience in their lives. Autism is often seen as one of those disabilities.
“When you get labeled with a disability it can become defining, if you let it. People around you often lower expectations and that becomes a way of life. That doesn’t happen here. The Undisputed Champions program is about going beyond,” Tom Schreck, the co-founder of the program says.
The program was designed by Martinez and Schreck and with certified adapted physical education instructor, Rachel McDermott, who made sure the program fit within the students’ PE goals. Safety is paramount…but so is hard work.
“When you drop in you can see the group doing burpees, mountain climbers, pushups, pistons—you name it. If need be, the exercises can be adapted to a person’s level. Doing their best and pushing to their limit is what is important,” Javy Martinez, co-founder, says.
The program also teaches the principles of “Relax, Focus and Adjust” as a way to be prepared in the ring, but more importantly, in life. Though the program does no sparring for safety reasons, the fighting metaphor is used as a teaching tool. The students train for eight weeks building up to this showcase where they will throw 1,000 punches to earn their “Undisputed Champion” title and their t-shirt. There’s a brief ceremony to close the training camp and salute the new champions.
This training camp the team decided to fight for a cause bigger than themselves. They are dedicating their 1,000 Punch Challenge to people facing cancer and raising funds for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. They are closing in on their $2,000 fundraising goal and will have an oversize check to present to Dana Farber at the end of the ceremony.
The International Boxing Federation, Everlast and Schott’s Boxing have all lent their support to the Undisputed Champions program.