The Untouchables

By TED WADDELL
Posted 12/4/19

LIBERTY, NY — Jose Toledo knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity and what it takes to get out of rock bottom.

Along his pathways of life, he graduated Liberty High in 1989, took a …

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The Untouchables

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LIBERTY, NY — Jose Toledo knows a thing or two about overcoming adversity and what it takes to get out of rock bottom.

Along his pathways of life, he graduated Liberty High in 1989, took a couple of knocks, quit his career as an amateur-turned-professional boxer, before he finally realized his dream of opening up a boxing, mixed-martial- arts and personal fitness center in his hometown.

In the wake of helping to establish the International Boxing Academy of Monticello (IBAM), Toledo went on to open up the Sullivan County Boxing Gym and the Untouchables Boxing Club on the third floor of a main street storefront. The space was later devasted by a fire that destroyed the boxing gym’s equipment and reduced part of his cherished collection of boxing memorabilia to smoking ashes, only to be reborn in a small first-floor space located at the four-corners of the village’s main drag.

The boxing ring is long gone, but the place is packed with heavy bags, and the walls resplendent with photos of the greats in the world of boxing, including the immortal Muhammad Ali.

A series of display cases is packed with more boxing photographs and glittering championship belts—“Some have been won, some have been donated”—including a World Championship belt from the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and a pair of “Untouchables” boxing gloves.

Toledo’s girlfriend Talia Pless is also a boxing fan and his partner in designing and manufacturing the club’s own signature brand of boxing gloves, wraps, mouth pieces, tee-shirts, boxing shoes, ring outfits and focus mitts.

“Life is a full circle. She ends up with a boxer trainer, ex-boxer… she shares my passion for the sport,” he said, adding that Pless snapped a lot of the contemporary photos exhibited in the gym.

Asked to list his top picks for boxers, Toledo named Rocky Marciano, Jake LaMotta, Wille Pep, Sam Langford, Archie Moore and “my favorite of all time is Sugar Ray Robinson.”

During an intensive workout covered by this sports scribbler, Toledo kept up the furious pace of training, as he instructed his students to take a short break from hitting the heavy bags and do a bit of fancy footwork dubbed the “Ali Shuffle.”

Decades after the glory days of the famous fighter, Ali’s legacy of the “shuffle” lives on at a local boxing gym under the watchful tutelage of Toledo as he pushes folks to the max.

“Progress is consistently staying on track, wanting better, and knowing success comes from hard work, sweat and tears,” said the gym’s owner and trainer in a Facebook post, adding, “Hands up, chin down, and never stop fighting.”

Along the way, Toledo has known Ron McNair, a boxing judge and big-time collector of boxing memorabilia, and Hector “Macho” Camacho.

Reflecting on the times he spent talking to McNair about boxing, Toledo said, “I’d sit down with him, and he can tell you some amazing stories.”

In his stellar amateur career, Camanho won three New York Golden Gloves tourneys. As a professional, he was world champ in a trio of weight classes.

On September 14, Bryant Costello, one of the local pugilists under Toledo’s wing, won his bout against Anthony Everett 42 seconds into the third round of the Resorts World Catskills’ ring on the Catskills Clash boxing card.

It marked the first pro win for the 32-year-old boxer who took up the gloves at the rather late age of 25.

On the amateur side of things, Toledo trains several local fighters, including 27-year-old Bobby “Too Sharp” Beale of Hurleyville, who at times brings his 9-year-old sister Mikaela along to the gym. While she’s most likely not thinking about a boxing career, the youngster frequently joins the group in working out with a set of kid-sized weights.

During his high school days, Beale said he played several team sports including football, baseball and basketball. Commenting upon the differences between team-focused sports and individual athletics such as boxing, he explained, “In those sports, it’s all about the team… When it comes to boxing, it’s all about what you can do, pushing yourself to your limits…”

Meanwhile, as Beale was working out on a heavy bag, Nicholas Konzamais, 24, was pounding a similar bag with a series of rapid-fire punches, mentally landing devastating KO’s.

He was born in Hawaii and grew up in Brooklyn before moving to Liberty, where he signed up with the Untouchables.

Konzananis hails from a family that is involved in the arts of self-defense, as his brother was a wrestler, and his father boxed along with studying wing chun kung fu and jiu-jitso.

His take on boxing and the local boxing club? “It’s a great stress reliever. It’s rare to find such a friendly environment like this with such camaraderie and honest friendship,” said Konzamanis.

Boxing, the hand-to-hand combat between two individuals, has been around since the dawn of man, and over the ages evolved into a sport of which the earliest known depictions comes from a 3,000 BC Sumerian relief, and later from an Egyptian relief sculpture that portrays both boxers and spectators.

In Ancient Greece, it was introduced in the 23rd Olympiad of 688 BC, while at bit earlier in time, a circa 1650 BC fresco of Minoan youths boxing is reportedly the earliest documented example of the use of boxing gloves, which first started out with the combatant’s hands wrapped in soft leather throngs.

Fast forwarding a few millennia, Toledo said in a Facebook posting, “Rock bottom has built more champions than privilege ever did. Rock bottom is a place I have been within my own journey, and not one I’d like to visit again anytime soon… There is one huge positive about your individual rock bottom: things can only get better.”

“I walked in on boxing when I was five years of age, and from that day [on,] boxing has walked along with me for the rest of my life,” he said in a post-interview comment, adding,“ I have a passion so deep for boxing I would watch fights over and over, studying old fight films. I loved Joe Louis as a fighter, he pulled my attention and fueled my passion for boxing.”

For more information about the Untouchables Boxing Club, located at 3 South Main St., call 845/807-7194, email Toledo at cuks72@yahooo.com or check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

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