NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Former pro boxer Joey Negron has been in the boxing game since 1979.
Negron, who was born in Brooklyn, started boxing at the age of 10 and had more than 90 amateur fights.
During his career, Negron won three Western Massachusetts “Golden Gloves” titles, two regional titles, 25 profesional fights with a record of 14-7-4 with 8 knockouts, and was twice named New England Champion.
Negron eventually moved to New Brunswick with his family in 2003 where his oldest son Josh “Lefty” Negron had dreams of one day becoming a professional boxer, and would spend a lot of time at the boxing gym on Jersey Avenue.
Josh was an all-around athlete, and was well known and respected throughout the neighborhood. But his life was taken suddenly just over two years ago.
On November 12, 2012 after coming home from the gym, Josh Negron headed to the corner of Remsen Avenue and Hale Street, where 17-year-old Junio Moronto had been stabbed to death two days earlier, to attend a candlelight vigil in memorial of Moronto
While Josh paid his respects around a crowd of friends and people who he had known, he was shot several times and killed in the exact same spot where Moronto had been murdered just days before.
Since then, Joey has devoted most of his time helping kids on the streets of New Brunswick and training young kids in the city’s boxing gym.
Negron says he wants to give back and help these young men and women reach their full potential. The New Brunswick Boxing Gym, located at 121 Jersey Avenue, gives the kids a chance to do something positive with their time.
Sharing his valuable experiences in the boxing ring and on the streets with the kids, Negron tries to help lead them in the right direction. When Negron isn’t in the gym training his fighters, you might find him organizing for victims of gun violence and their families.
Negron hopes that he can help keep these kids alive, away from gang activity, and out of jail.
Joey invests a lot of time into the young fighters that he trains, teaching them how to become not only better boxers, but better people. He is grateful for guys like gym John “JT” Thompson who manages the New Brunswick Boxing Gym, and gave Joey the opportunity to give back.
Joey doesn’t really like to take much credit for the work that he does. He feels like theses kids deserve all of the credit and attention for the hard work and dedication that they have been putting in day in and day out at the gym.
Along with Steve Rivera, who’s been a trainer in New Brunswick for many years and Dieon Roberts, who works behind the scenes and sets up the boxing matches for the fighters, Negron also credited Thompson and Gabriel Gerena, a junior Olympic Gold Glove champion from Piscataway, for their help.
“We try to help these kids stay off the streets and teach them discipline, self awareness, and how to be better people,” Nergron said about his fighters.
Negron is also working to start a community organization called People Against a Violent Environment (P.A.V.E.), and just launched a Facebook group. Negron is currently networking with other advocates and says there is more to come.
Negron said P.A.V.E. hopes “to help against gangs, peer pressure, drugs and other negative dilemas that we in New Brunswick Boxing, have had experience with.”
“We will be doing peaceful marches, public awareness, getting the help of churches… to wake up City Hall and demand… the protection and service of the police,” writes Negron on the Facebook group.
His mission is to unite with people who are sick and tired of living in a community where gangs, gun violence and drugs run rampant and claim the lives of young men and women each and everyday.
“We try to help point them in the right direction and help find some type of help or solution to whatever problems they might have.”
“PAVE is for those whose lost children and love ones to the violence of the streets for those who want to help pave a safer roads in our children environment,” reads the Facebook page. “If you had enough and want to make a change, here’s a start. A place where we can come together and help our youth of tomorrow.”
“We can help stop the next funeral of a violent victim by showing that we care, that there is hope, that there’s mor to life that the the street and the bad elements that comes with it.”