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This is not your typical boxing story. It’s not a story about a kid lifting himself from the streets or recovering from tragedy and making his way into the gym, where his fists now toil for good.

On a leafy street in Tenafly, you’d have a hard time imagining boxing even existed here. But you veer into a breezeway, through a door still marked for a fitness center that once occupied the space and descend the stairs, under a CVS pharmacy, and through another unmarked door. You find cement walls, a ring, a handful of speed bags and exercise equipment and you are in Ace’s Boxing.

And this is where Shahbaz “Ali” Choudhry, a 2014 graduate of Bergenfield High School and trainer Steve Bratter meet. The “Ali” has no connection to the boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, simply a middle name the 18-year-old Muslim from Pakistan goes by while he works with the 72-year-old retired Jewish New York City bus driver.

An odd place. An odd couple.

“We really don’t discuss it. We just work,” Choudhry said. “My family, they accepted it. We all accepted it. My parents accept everybody. We like everybody no matter who they are. My family and friends wonder why I box, but nobody discriminates against anybody.”

“Maybe this should be an example,” Bratter said as he taped up Choudhry for a training session. “We don’t think about the politics or the religion. He’s a great kid. I never looked at him as a Muslim, never looked at him as a terrorist. I looked at him as a good kid. Look at what he accomplished.” [click to continue…]


Sitting in a hallway adjacent to the boxing ring inside Lincoln Neighborhood Boxing Club, Deche Ward got a little emotional a few times.

He seemed most torn as he discussed his amateur boxing record.

He gave it as 4-3, modestly not wanting to talk about his wins. He was apparently galled by the outcome of his first two matches. They were losses.

At the same time the 17-year-old cruiserweight (200 pounds) admitted that he learned a lot in defeat.

“I saw that I could push myself to the next level,” Ward said. “If I had a second chance right now to go back and fight those dudes (his first two opponents), I would knock them out.”

As a boxer with two years’ experience, Ward is one of the favorites to give the home team a victory when the Lincoln Center Boxing Club stages its annual tournament Saturday at the Armory.

Every fight is a step to living his dream of becoming a world champion, said Ward. But working to see his dream come true does more for him than preparing him for the next level.

It’s his way of dealing with his biggest demon – fighting anywhere and anytime he was challenged, he said. He had a few too many of those brawls while he was attending Godby High School and eventually was expelled. [click to continue…]


Olympic boxing champion Claressa Shields is in Mexico City this week for the Pan American Olympic Festival, a multi-sport event.

There are five athletes scheduled to compete in her weight division, but she won’t find out her opponent until the tournament draw.

Boxing competition is scheduled to run from July 16-20, but Shields confirmed Wednesday, July 16, that she won’t be fighting on the opening day.

“It’ll take focus. The preparation is already done,” Shields said. “There are some countries here that I’ve never had the chance to box before, so I’ll definitely have to make my adjustments to land clean-and-hard shots.”

The 19-year-old fighter from Flint, is one of four athletes representing the United States in the event, joining fellow Olympians Marlen Esparza and Queen Underwood and a male boxer, Cam F.

Shields won another gold medal in her last bout Saturday, May 31, at the Cheo Aponte Tournament in Caguas, Puerto Rico. She first drew worldwide attention as a 17-year-old in 2012 when she became America’s first female gold medalist for boxing as a middleweight at the London Olympic Games. [click to continue…]