"This place is home," said Ahmad Demes, 14, who started coming at the tender age of 12. One of 10 children in a Palestinian-American family from Sunset Park, Ahmad spends 5 nights per week training at Sweet Science. On a recent weeknight, Ahmad had just completed four rounds in the ring, and despite the physical demand he had already put on his adolescent body, he planned to keep training until the gym closed, at 8:00pm. “I wish I could stay longer,” he said, but he accepts his responsibilities at home, babysitting for his younger siblings.
One of the gym’s trainers, Jordan “Pee Wee” Rodriguez, 22, who splits his time caring for his young son, admits that he came to boxing late, at the age of 19. “The first time I sparred?” he asked, laughing. “I got hit in the solar plexus. I was getting my ass kicked. But then I ended up dropping the guy.” His late entrance into the sport didn’t prevent him from claiming a number of the amateur belts displayed proudly in one of the gym’s many cases.