Kudos to “Ray’s Kidz”

A coach at Ray Rinaldi's gym instructs a young boxer.

…and to their hero, Ray Rinaldi.

Story and photos by James P. Hughes

For dozens of Syracuse area youth and young adults, it’s a daily routine – barked instructions, sparring in the ring, steady jabs at the heavy and speed bags, exercises on the mat. A bell rings. Each group hustles to the next station … sweating, no delays, few words, focus always the key. Along Geddes Street on the city’s gritty southwest side, the WAA-EC is indeed a busy place. The WAA-EC …what’s that? The “WA” stands for “West Area,” the next “A” for “athletic,” and the “EC” for “education center.” The blending of the last two parts of the name is a mission that 90-year old Ray Rinaldi took on many decades ago. Heart and soul of the operation, Ray as a young man began to use his love for boxing as a means to better the lives of area youth, to lure them off the “mean streets” and into a positive, disciplined environment.

To read more about Ray Rinaldi and his legacy, be sure to subscribe to Life in the Finger Lakes magazine to receive the MayJune 2020 issue delivered directly to your mailbox.

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