The hottest ticket in town on May 17 was for the 10th Annual Silk City Boxing Charity Event held at The Brownstone. The USA Amateur Boxing Event matched New Jersey boxers against visiting boxers from Irelands and drew a crowd so large that it had to be moved to a ring under a tent in the well-known establishment’s parking lot.
Started by Rich Hennion, co-founder of Hennion and Walsh investment firm, and founder of Silk City Boxing, the event raises funds annually for three area charities: Saint Peter’s Orphanage, Saint Gerard Church, and the Do-Good House, a student support group dedicated to providing scholarships to deserving students in need of financial assistance in the Greater Paterson area.
Last year the fundraiser brought in $35,000 for the three charities.
In addition to welcoming the boxers from Ireland, a first for the annual event, the crowd also hosted several sports celebrities including Super Bowl winners Plaxico Burress, Otis “OJ” Anderson, and Amani Toomer, all three retired from the New York Giants. Not to be left out, legends of the boxing world including Tony Santana, Ed Leahy, Peter Quinones, and Bobby Czyz, who started his career at Paterson’s Lou Costellos’ Boxing Gym also worked the crowd through the evening.
Local legend Ed Cotton, best known for his role as the referee when Mike Tyson was knocked out by Lennox Lewis in 2002, was also in attendance at the standing room only event.
The event took on a political tone with dignitaries such as Mayor-Elect Andre Sayegh, Freeholder Terry Duffy, and Superior Court Judge Ray Reddin. Peter Murphy, currently seeking a return to the top spot within the Passaic County Republican Organization, and has sponsored the event each year since its inception was also present.
Never one to miss an opportunity to inject some local drama into the affair, Leahy managed to recruit 19-year old Ka’sim Coffie into the ring to replace a missing fighter. Coffie, working the event as a waiter for the evening, didn’t need much encouragement to put on the gloves when he was told by Leahy “take off our uniform, you’re boxing tonight!”
Coffie, whose first name translates into “controller of anger” became an instant local celebrity when he was successful in the ring and was later selected as Fighter of the Night. “What a night, huh,” Leahy exclaimed to TAPinto Paterson. “Thank God for those Paterson boys, they saved the show.”
With the Irish boxers taking four of the six matches it was only Coffie and his fellow Ike and Randy’s Gym boxer Isaiah Mack representing the winning side when the evening ended. The Diamond and Golden Gloves winners are both trained by Ossie Duran, the Ghanaian Gladiator, who said they are both “good boys.”
“They work very hard,” says Duran.
Both local boxers have their sites set on continuing to excel in the sport, as well as to help to their community, with Coffie, from the city’s Eastside neighborhood, saying that “he will continue to work hard, and be a part of a boxing charity event that gives back to help other kids in the hood.”
“Coach wants me to be a champ, I’m gonna be a champ,” Isaiah Mack said confidently “I’m destined to be a champ.”
Pete Quinones who has worked on the event since 2010 said that is a special one for the local boxing community “because it raises money for the kids.”
“It’s a really good thing that Rich Hennion does every year. I’ve been working on the show since 2010 and we expect it to get even bigger next year.”