A Sunset Park cop — the commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct — will head to the ring in the name of charity.
On Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m., Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez will participate in the NYPD Boxing Championships at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. During the event, dozens of matches between officers will take place, with each match contributing to a charity of the contenders’ choice.
Gonzalez will go toe to toe with Police Officer Richie Fuentes, also a member of the precinct, in a smoker match, a term often used in the NYPD bouts, with the money they raise destined to aid the Puerto Rico relief effort.
“We fought once before,” said Gonzalez. “The NYPD boxing team puts this together every year. The cops love it. We did it once before in Coney Island and it was fun.”
The fights consist of three rounds of about 90 seconds each.
The Puerto Rico relief effort in the wake of Hurricane Maria is near to Gonzalez’s heart.
Following the devastation that left over three million residents of Puerto Rico without power and electricity, he traveled to Puerto Rico with other people from local organizations to observe the destruction firsthand.
He was on the island from Thursday, October 5 through Sunday, October 15, and was shocked and saddened by what he saw.
“It was a humbling experience,” he said following his trip. “We went straight into the mountainous areas and there were people just waiting to be helped by some type of government official, any type of government official.”
The group went to a refugee center in Isabela. “It was heartbreaking to see,” Gonzalez elaborated. “For example, we saw an eight-year-old kid with multiple issues. He weighs 25 pounds and is on a ventilator. Also, a 28-year-old was relying on life support from a faulty generator. Everyone that saw this generator said it is going to die, and when it dies, he dies. The situation was overwhelming.”
Besides the charity component, Gonzalez thinks the boxing matches are beneficial to the individuals who participate in different ways.
“It encourages us to stay healthy and fit within the Police Department,” he explained. “It’s also good for morale. It makes the cops happy that the commanding officers participate in these things and happy cops mean a happy community. In my opinion, that good morale within the station house translates to better community relations.”
Fighting in the same building that has hosted classic events, Gonzalez has been taking the bout seriously. “I’ve been training. I’m 50 years old so it’s pretty hard,” he said. “I’ve been doing the treadmill and a lot of cardio. It’s a big deal. All the chief commissioners will be there. Police Commissioner James O’Neill is supposed to be there as well.”
Regardless of the outcome, Gonzalez is looking forward to the day.
“I’m just going to do my best,” he said.
For more information, visit http://bit.ly/NYPDTMSG or NYPD Boxing on Facebook.