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"Safe Streets, Healthy Kids": Israel "Shorty" Acosta at the UCC Boxing Gym

Israel looks at a small portion of the memories that line the walls at UCC's boxing gym.

Listen: This past week,  we heard from Luis Feliciano, a young star who trains at the United Community Center’s gym. And in the boxing world, you’d be hard pressed to find a successful boxer who wasn’t the protégé of an accomplished fighter or coach. At the UCC’s gym, Israel “Shorty” Acosta is both of these things — a boxer who competed at an elite level for years as well as a teacher with a deep passion for working with youth.

Shorty and friends.

When we first reached out to the United Community Center wanting to know more about their boxing gym, they gave us the name “Shorty” and a phone number. So, I called, and hesitantly asked the voice who answered “Um… may I speak to Shorty?” Sure enough, I was speaking to him already. We spoke for a few minutes, set up an interview time, and when I asked for directions on how to find the gym (I’d been in the UCC a few times before, but never seen the gym in person), he told me to “go to the front desk and ask for the champ.” When the interview came I followed his directions, and a few moments later, I was toe to toe with Shorty (scroll to the bottom for the audio piece).


Sound interesting? You can learn more about t he United Community Center  and t heir history , and if you’re a little adventurous,  go down to the UCC and check out the gym for yourself !

Produced by: Adam Carr