Long Island City, NY - December 31, 2009
Back in 1954-55 in New York city an ex-fighter named Jack Grebelsky decided to form a branch of retired professional prize fighters associated with the recently formed National Veterans Boxers Association. The National Veterans Boxers Association was started in 1953 in Philadelphia . Within two years six other cities had their own chapters and New York was eight on the list. Hence the name Ring 8.
Professional boxing is the only major sport whose atheletes do not have a union, pension plan or health benefits. Nor do they have a centralized authority to keep order. New York City was boxing's international capitol for 50 years and it was fitting that Ring 8 would become the most effective organization of its kind and its motto was "Boxers helping Boxers" . The stated purpose outlined in the organizations charter is to provide for the physical,mental, and monetary welfare of indigent boxers. " The organization goes all out to assist fighters in need. " said Mike silver one of the organizations official historian.
In addition to membership benefits the organization also helps with expenses such as rent, utilities and groceries on a per needed basis. Ring 8 organizes events to help retired boxers with medical needs from major surgery to a simple pair of glasses. The most noteworthy of the groups accomplishments just might be the exhumation of the body of former welterweight World Champion " Kid Gavilan " from a potters field to the reburial of the deceased fighter in a proper grave headstones and all .Mike Tyson himself shelled out
$5,000 for Kid Gavilans headstone. Over the years they have helped scores of indigent boxers get themselves together. They have not sent out press releases detailing their altruistic actions..
Its members include multiple division champ Emile Griffith And Vito Antuofermo. Other fighters from past decades include Bobby Bartels, Lenny Mangiapane, and Johnny Breitenbuck. The Waterfront Crabhouse in Long Island City Queens is where Ring 8 holds its monthly meetings. "Its nice to get together, see familiar
faces and talk of the good old days." said Bobby Bartels a former welterweight. Meetings are held upstairs
in the catering facility where Tony Mazzarella and his staff provide members a hot buffet. boxers reminisce with each other about their fights against each other and the next thing they are slapping each other on the back. That is a special bond you do not see too often.
At meetings guest speakers are there each month and at any given meeting you could meet a former
Knick, A U.S. congressman or a movie director. Membership is open to anyone willing to help boxers.
Most members boxed from the 1940"s to the 1960"s The social aspect of a Ring 8 meeting is therapeutic
for the fighters."Ring 8 keeps us going" said Henny Wallitsch. " We come to be around other fighters"
Ring 8 has the Bill Gallo College Scholarship fund which is given to qualified amateurs or pros who wish to attend a college or a trade school.It is named in honor of the famous cartoonist of the Daily News and a
life long member of Ring 8. Years ago Ring 8 acted on rumors about ailing Sandy Saddler a former featherweight champion was being neglected. The organization placed Sandy Saddler in a nursing facility so he was able to live his final years in peace.
Ring 8 is a tax exempt organization that has helped hundreds of boxers. Anyone interested in boxing can help by making a tax deductible contribution to Ring 8 can send to.
Veterans Boxers Association Inc Ring 8
c/o Waterfront Crabhouse
2-03 Borden Ave.
L.I.City N.Y.11101 Tel 718 729 4862
Content collected from "Boxers Digest" and "The Ring " magazine articles and Veterans Boxers Association
You are cordially invited to join us for our annual
Holiday and Awards Ceremony,
Sunday, January 10, 2009