Long Islander Inspires Kids At The Big Daddy Youth Football Camp

By Peter Schwartz
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According to his official website, boxer Chris Algieri “played every sport in the book” while growing up on Long Island. However, by his own admission, there was one sport that Algieri didn’t play.

His mother would not let him participate in football.

So how did he convince his mom to let him battle in the squared circle?

“She really didn’t let me do that either,” Algieri said Tuesday night after speaking to kids at the Big Daddy Youth Football Camp at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale. “I kind of forced the issue. She would probably allow me to play football at this point.”

But there’s no going back now.

Especially after the events of June 14, when the 30-year-old Algieri won the WBO junior welterweight title with a split decision win over Ruslan Provodnikov at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“It was surreal,” said Algieri. “Thinking back now, it feels like months ago, but it was only a couple of weeks. It’s definitely a surreal thing and was a dream come true.”

Before winning the title, Algieri fought a number of bouts at the Paramount, a small venue in Huntington on Long Island that seats around 1,500 people. The title fight was originally slated for Nassau Coliseum but was switched to the Barclays Center.

It’s been a while since the soon-to-be former home of the Islanders hosted a fight, but Algieri is hopeful that he can, one day, step into the ring at the Coliseum.

“I mean that would be historic,” said Algieri. “There hasn’t been a fight there in almost 18 years. It would be great to have a defense there. We’ll see. Maybe it’s something we can work out.”

Algieri is now 20-0 with eight knockouts. But on Tuesday night, he was on a football field talking with kids ranging from seven to 17 years old. While football is not his area of expertise these days, being a champion is, and that’s why he was invited to speak at the camp.

Chris Algieri speaks at the Big Daddy Youth Football Camp on July 8, 2014. (Photo by Peter Schwartz/WFAN)

Chris Algieri speaks at the Big Daddy Youth Football Camp on July 8, 2014. (Photo by Peter Schwartz/WFAN)

“It’s really a great opportunity,” said the Huntington native. “If I can help one kid out here and get him a little bit inspired, then it’s worth my time. I love what they’re presenting with those medals like the hustle award. That’s great. It’s good stuff, teaching kids that hard work pays off.”

Algieri was great with the kids and took some time after his speech to pose for pictures and sign autographs.

Algieri’s hard work is paying off in the boxing ring right now, but he’s also planning for life after the squared circle. He has a bachelor’s degree in healthcare science from Stony Brook University and is also a clinical nutritionist with a master’s from New York Institute of Technology.

Attending medical school is something that is also on Algieri’s radar, but he’s a little busy right now. He’s looking ahead to his next fight.

“We’re in negotiations,” said Algieri. “We’re looking at end of November or early December. There are a couple of things that we’re throwing around. We’ll see what makes the most sense.”

According to the New York Daily News, Algieri has an offer from Bob Arum of Top Rank to move up in weight class and face Manny Pacquiao for the WBO welterweight championship on November 22 in China. It’s possible that it could be a done deal in the next few days.

After his mom put the kibosh on football, Algieri never wavered in his desire to become a champion. He enjoyed a stellar career in kickboxing, going 20-0 before turning his attention to boxing.

Now, he is in possession of the WBO junior welterweight belt, a big reason why he was summoned to chat with a group of youth football players that he has inspired. What they heard and saw was a kid from Long Island that has made it big.

Despite his accomplishments, Algieri still has his feet on the ground.

“I’m still the same old guy,” said Algieri. “A lot of other people treat me a little bit differently.”

With every win by Algieri, there will be more and more of those people who will be paying more and more attention to Long Island’s newest champion.

Don’t forget to follow Pete on Twitter at @pschwartzcbsfan. You can also follow Chris Algieri (@ChrisAlgieri) and the Big Daddy Youth Football Camp (@BDYouthFBCamp).

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