Everyone was a winner in the ring at the NYPD Boxing Championships.
Held at the the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, March 15 at 7 p.m., Deputy Inspector and Commanding Officer of the 72nd Precinct Emmanuel Gonzalez fought in a match in the name of charity against Police Officer Richie Fuentes, also of the 72.
The event was coined a smoker match, a term often used in the NYPD bouts.
Although Gonzalez lost the three-round fight in a split decision, he says that everyone came out a winner as a $10,000 check was presented to him at El Yayo Nuevo, 5823 Fourth Avenue on Thursday, March 29, with all the money going to aide the Puerto Rico relief effort.
“It went very well,” said Gonzalez about the check presentation, which was attended by officers, active and retired, among others. “We were very appreciative of the boxing team. I was taken aback and humbled by the amount of the check and I was humbled by some of the testimonies of some. The officers that were there, including Police Officer Gerber Fernandez, gave their testimonies on a previous mission that we did in Puerto Rico and their experiences.”
Ever since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico last fall, which resulted in massive power loss, flooding and destruction, Gonzalez has traveled to the island several times to distribute goods and help out the ailing areas.
Fernandez, who also traveled with Gonzalez this past January, discussed the significance of the relief effort.
“I spoke about my experience in Puerto Rico when we went there last time and how the CO was able to identify the locations that needed help so when we went there previously we went to those locations along with a church,” he said. “We were able to donate food and water. Las Marias was one of the locations that were heavily damaged by Maria. To this day, they still have nothing. We didn’t just go there, give them bags of food and leave. We spoke to them and conversed with them.”
“We’ve got missionaries there right now,” said Gonzalez. “When we get there, the first thing we do is pack up food, put it in shopping bags and make sure it gets there alright. We have to sort it out and categorize it because of the heat.”
Gonzalez and company went out on another relief trip to Puerto Rico from Friday, April 13 to Friday, April 20.
“It was nice to hear the officers give their experiences and how they felt about the mission, what we’re going to do and what our plans are this time around,” Gonzalez said. “One example I gave is we spoke to young children walking home from school and the buses are no longer able to take kids home or to school because of the roads. They’re so bad you can barely move through it. You can use the roads for walking but not vehicles. With half the roads gone, kids would have to walk home. It was nice to see neighbors give kids water as they walked home.
”It took us back to being eight-year-old kids,” he went on. “It had to have been well over a mile that they had to walk. We were amazed that the kids were doing this every day.”
“It was very humbling to know these people with nothing were still thankful for the help we were giving them,” said Fernandez. “There was a sense of hope that things will get better.”
As for the match, Gonzalez had a blast despite the decision.
“It was a very enjoyable experience,” he said. “I lost by a split decision but we were all winners considering the check for charity and that this is something we are bringing directly to the people in the form of food, water and medical supplies. I feel great to be a part of this.”
“It was exciting because you don’t normally hear of a commanding officer fighting,” said Fernandez. “He did it twice. It boosts morale. They look up to him and say we have a CO that does that.”