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Raiders lifting spirits by donating fitness equipment to North Las Vegas youth boxing gym

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The Raiders donated workout equipment to a North Las Vegas youth boxing gym. (FOX5) The Raiders donated workout equipment to a North Las Vegas youth boxing gym. (FOX5)
NORTH LAS VEGAS, NV (FOX5) -

When it was first announced seven months ago that the Raiders would be relocating to Las Vegas, it meant in three years time, fans would have a front row view to an NFL team. But while the valley waits for football on Russell Road, the Silver and Black refuse to wait 'til 2020 to make an impact in the community.

For the last nine years, neighbors have driven by Judson Avenue and Linn Lane, looking at nothing more than an abandoned firehouse, but that's all about to change.

"We got this building from the county, the county was going to demo it down, so we had a great idea, and figured let's turn it into Center Ring boxing gym,” Laborers Union Local 872, Tommy White said.

Center Ring Boxing is a non-profit organization designed to get kids off the street and into positive extra-curriculars. It's a program Jose Banales and his family started more than 20 years ago.

"I'm just trying not to tear up and stuff. I feel Center Ring is going to stay here and even farther than I may be here," Center Ring President, Jose Banales said. "They're giving me an opportunity to continue my legacy, which is to help kids become better citizens in the community and be something in life."

For the past couple months, Local 872 have been working around the clock, from the early hours to the late nights, renovating and remodeling a fire house into a boxing gym. It was in such bad shape, that FOX5 photographers weren't even allowed in for safety reasons, because of all the bacteria.

"I feel appreciated," youth boxer Jesus Estrada said. "It feels good, that people are looking out, putting their effort and time, donating their time to give us what we have."

Sunrise High School students Jesus and his brother Alex have been working out at Center Ring Boxing for more than six years. They said it's their dream to fight professionally.

"I feel thankful, this is unexpected, I've never seen this many people to come and donate their time," Alex Estrada said. "I want to make it big and to see all these people do this, it just makes me want to keep going and work harder and do better."

And to be best, you have to train like the best, they said.

"We're an NFL city, but we've always been a boxing city. So we just thought maybe we can bring both together so I reached out to the Raiders, told Marc Badain what we're doing for the kids. He said 'Tommy, I have some equipment that we're not using, if you want to send your guys up to pick it up," White said.

And without hesitation, Local 872 hit the road, bringing home more than $15,000 worth of NFL quality workout equipment.

"I feel like I'm going to be big, carrying these Raiders weights. It's like 'Whoa,'" Estrada said. "I feel more motivated you know, I have all this help."

"Giving to a small organization like ours, helping the kids and see their face go and say wow, Raiders, they, being Raiders fans, their eyes just sparkle, feels good we're able to continue to help kids like that become better," Banales said.

Center Ring is now equipped by the Raiders, led by Local 872, and facilitated by Clark County.

"Rent is a dollar for the first ten years, utilities they'll have to cover after three years. No profit, just adding some components to the community they don't have today," Clark County Commissioner, Marilyn Kirkpatrick said.

Center Ring Boxing sees 60 to 80 kids per day, three of which belong to Sandra Mendoza, a mom and volunteer who said she has seen the difference a program like this can make.

"It has kept them away from trouble. They have no time to look for trouble, because they have an opportunity to be somewhere doing something positive because of this gym," Sandra Mendoza said.

"People are excited and that's really because we have the folks from 872 and the Raiders who stepped up early on to volunteer to give us the equipment. It really changed the conversation about our community," Kirkpatrick said.

"It is about rebuilding our community and this is just a small part. And we do a lot and we're going to continue to do as much as we can and we're not going to stop when the Raiders get here. The Raiders are going to be a big part of what we do and we're going to keep it that way," White said.

The gym is set to open before the end of the year.

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