It only takes one person to make a change: one person to see a community and know its true potential for greatness. That was Jimmy O’Pharrow, a strong, intelligent, loving, humble man, and an all-around role model. His work as the founder and director of the Starrett City Boxing Club (SCBC), in the boxing world in general, as well as his dedication to helping others will forever be imprinted on the Spring Creek Towers’ community.
For the past five years, the SCBC has kept his memory alive by holding a free sparring event. On February 20th, the club invites boxers from all across the metropolitan area, regardless of their age and gender, to have fun and practice what they love—boxing.
The boxing club is more than a place to train fighters. It is an extended family that builds on O’Pharrow’s beliefs of love, support and respect. Since the SCBC was created, the organization has helped keep children off the streets and developed an environment filled with positive role models, in addition to producing professional boxers. It is in this spirit that his youngest son, Cleavon J. Evans, a trainer/coach at the SCBC, hosts the event. “I want to celebrate my father’s life and continue his work,” said Evans, also known as Coach CJ. “Spring Creek Towers is unlike any other neighborhood, and I am in awe seeing the mere effect and difference the boxing club is making. One person can make a difference, and Jimmy O’ did that,” he said that so many people approach him and tell him how his father touched their lives.
This year was the first time that Jimmy O’ Day took place at the Brooklyn Sports Club (BSC), where two boxing rings were installed in the gymnasium. Akin to a boxing arena, family members sat in rows of chairs and cheered on the boxers as they duked it out in the ring.
Ten-year-old Ra-leek Born just started his boxing training about eight months ago at the Eastern Queens Boxing Club. His coach encouraged him to attend the event. “I think it’s a great experience because I can face other boxers my age,” said Born, who hopes to one day become a professional boxer.
Keeping the teachings of O’Pharrow alive, Evans, has instructed his boxers to never to quit. Khalil Wells says that while under Evans tutelage this message resonated with him. The 20 year-old went through a point last summer when he didn’t know what to do with his life. He thought of just dropping out of high school and maybe, later on, obtaining his GED. After eight months of being a member of the SCBC, he is one class away from receiving his high school diploma. “We stick together at the boxing club, it’s like a family. I’ve learned about discipline, and that my education is important,” said Wells, who credits Evans and the SCBC for helping him turn his life around. Wells hopes to attend college and pursue a career as a computer technician.
The event had music mixed by DJ Princess Chow (Carlene Chow), free pizza, an assortment of fruits, and water. There was also an informational table for the Luis Danvers Leukemia Fund, an organization created by Sharon Turnage in honor of her son’s current struggle with leukemia. The table was loaded with literature about leukemia, the importance of bone marrow donations and other facts about blood cancer. Evans thought that having the Luis Danvers Leukemia Fund at the boxing event expressed unity with the Brooklyn community, and embodied Jimmy’s efforts to helping children in any way possible. “It’s tough living with leukemia because there is not much I can do to stop it. I have a disease, but in no way does it dictate my life; I want to be a technologist and artist when I grow up,” said 10-year-old Luis Danvers.
Jimmy O’ Day was a huge success, attended by boxers locally and nationwide. Evans believes that his father created a gym that is, and will always remain “a safe haven for all, transcending race, gender and age.”
By Amanda Moses
Photo Credit: Amanda Moses