The Portugese phrase Luta Pela Paz translates to Fight for Peace and for the organization Luta, they take it quite literally.
“It seems like an unusual thing to say but if you know anything about boxing, it really isn’t that unusual,” said Luke Dowdney, the CEO and founder of Luta sportswear. “If you get riled up in boxing, you lose. It’s about keeping calm and clear-headed even when someone is hitting you.”
Dowdney, who hails from Rio de Janiero, created Luta in 2000 after noticing an increase in drug and gang life among young people in Brazil.
“We wanted to create an outlet for these kids,” he said.
But the group needed funding.
“We figured the best way to raise money would be to create sportswear,” Dowdney said, “quality apparel that looks good and that supports boxing clubs.”
Fast-forward to 2013, Luta is now a global brand and assists about 120 boxing clubs around the world by donating 50 percent of the proceeds made from selling the apparel.
This week, Luta announced that Brotherhood Boxing Club in Ridgewood at 82 Wykcoff Ave. would become the organization’s newest partnership.
“We don’t pick just any club,” Dowdney said. “We try to pick places that play a role in the community and do more than teach kids how to box.”
Ray Cuadrado, the manager and head coach at Brotherhood, fits the description perfectly. Wearing a Golden Glove medallion around his neck with a cut-off sleeve T-shirt, he greets every child who walks into the club with a friendly hello and occasional high-five.
“I am immersed in boxing, it’s my life,” Cuadrado said as he looked on at the youths working out. “But I also know there’s more. Most of these boys are being raised by single moms and have never had a positive male role model. There are a few cases where a woman who is raising a boy does a great job but there are many instances when these boys don’t know how to act like men.”
Along with a slew of trophies and medals, Brotherhood has produced several professional boxers.
“These kids are professionals, but they are also full-time students,” Cuadrado said. “As a coach, I could push them to enter matches and probably make a lot of money out of it, but I want these boys to do more with their lives and know that education is the most important thing.”
As part of the Luta program, Cuadrado will join other coaches from around the world in Rio where he will be taught leadership and coaching skills that he can implement at Brotherhood.
“We don’t want to just teach them to coach,” Dowdney said. “We want to turn them into leaders who can do more than show a kid how to throw a hit.”
As part of their campaign, Luta will help support Brotherhood for a full calendar year.
“People like Cuadrado mean a lot to their community and a lot to these young men,” Dowdney said. “This sport teaches control, logic and so much more and can be used as a tool for the rest of their lives. That’s why we created Luta, to make sure that places like Brotherhood and the three other clubs we’re working with in New York are able to continue to provide that support for these boys.”
If you wish to purchase Luta sportswear and help support boxing clubs like Brotherhood, visit: luta.us.