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Advocate Lakewood/East Dallas: Lakewood neighbor’s nonprofit offers boxing, promotes STEM

Updated: Sep 4, 2023

By Renee Umsted for Advocate Lakewood/East Dallas, published November 28th, 2022

To read the original article, follow this link:

Amanda Alvarez grew up in Puerto Rico, where boxing was an integral part of her family and culture.

She grew up watching fights and has been training in boxing for the past 14 years.

“Whenever a big Puerto Rican fighter was going to fight, there was a big watching party,” she says.

But she’s also had a lifelong interest in science. At 18, when she left Puerto Rico for college, she came to New York and studied neuroscience at New York University. Alvarez later moved to Texas for graduate school, and she earned her doctorate in neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas.

When she attended college, she really noticed how little she knew about the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

“There was a big gap in knowledge for me growing up in a small town in Puerto Rico where I was not as aware of all the career opportunities and options that were out there for me compared to my peers once I got to NYU,” she says.

Alvarez, who works as a consultant in the pharmaceutical industry, wanted to make boxing more accessible to East Dallas communities and expose more young people, especially students of color, to STEM.

So she decided to start a nonprofit, LaBori Boxing. LaBori, located at the corner of Samuell Boulevard and Grand Avenue, recently had a soft opening, and programs will start up next year.

Amanda Alvarez (center, holding scissors) and her family at the ribbon cutting for LaBori Boxing. Photo courtesy of Amanda Alvarez.

Alvarez lives in Lakewood, and her husband and mother-in-law grew up in East Dallas. Both her mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law have been longtime volunteers in our neighborhood.

Students will be divided by age group, with 8-12-year-olds in one group and another group with students 13 years and older. There will likely be two groups of 20 at the beginning, Alvarez says, but if more students are interested in participating, they can add opportunities.

Young people will train for an hour after school two days each week, and Alvarez says an optional strength and conditioning class could be offered once weekly.

Every four to six weeks, LaBori will host a dinner and invite a professional in STEM to give a presentation to the students about opportunities in the fields. Eventually, Alvarez says she also wants to create more direct pathways for students through scholarships to study STEM at local colleges and universities.

The wrestling coach at Woodrow Wilson High School is on the board, Alvarez says.

Alvarez also wants to have boxing classes for adults, available with a $10 donation to LaBori.

All youth programs at the nonprofit will be funded by grants and donations.

“The main goal is to provide a space where students can practice discipline, perseverance, increase their self-confidence,” she says. “And while they’re at it, hopefully we can show them the beautiful world of STEM.”

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