Chase Nelson appreciates his new surroundings.
The 14-year-old boxer, a freshman-to-be at Ontario High School, was involved in one of several sparring matches Friday at the Friendly House to show off the new boxing ring for a crowd of more than 40 people.
"It (old ring) was not as nice as this one," Nelson said. "It was torn up and stuff."
Ginger Antrican, youth project coordinator at the Friendly House, said the new ring cost about $8,000. It was funded by the METRICH Enforcement Unit with drug prevention dollars.
Mansfield police Chief Dino Sgambellone was on hand for the dedication.
"The boxing program here has a lot of history," he said, noting the Police Athletic League became involved in the early 1990s. "METRICH is very proud to be part of this."
Jeff Salser, boxing coach and the uncle of Marc Salser, who recently won the International Boxing Association super lightweight continental title belt, said the new ring would make a difference in the community.
"We can't tell you how much this means to the Friendly House. It's going to jumpstart the gym," Salser said. "We are really excited about what's going to start happening down here."
Friday's dedication included Marc Salser sparring for three rounds.
"He's a real nice boxer," Nelson said. "He has showed a lot of support for the Mansfield Police Athletic League."
Nelson, who has been boxing since the age of 3, also has lofty aspirations. He said he hopes to make the Olympic team in 2016, win a medal and later become a world champion.
Chavon Stillwell, 12, is another top boxer at the Friendly House. He captured a junior Olympic title in May of 2011. His father, Charles Stillwell, won a national Toughman title in Las Vegas a few years ago. Chavon said he comes to the
Friendly House at least three times a week.
"You can take all your anger out on somebody," he said of boxing's appeal. "You can be a pro and get a lot of money."
Chavon, who took up boxing at 3, also is grateful for the new ring, which features the METRICH logo in the center.
"I think they did a nice job with it," he said.
Jeff Salser promised Sgambellone the Friendly House would take advantage of the new ring.
"We'll make sure your investment pays off," he said.
Originally published in the News Journal on June 10, 2012.