Former boxing champion a mentor to MP teens

Former welterweight champ Aaron Davis coached Bennis Sujak, 10, on Friday, May 15 at the Morris Park Boxing Club. Davis hails from Bronxdale, Sujak from Pelham Parkway. Photo by Victor Chu

In 1984, Aaron Davis was a teen with a dream, determined to become the welterweight champion of the world. One of the finest fighters the Bronx has ever produced, he snatched a Golden Gloves title and, in 1990, a WBA welterweight belt.

Now Davis, 42, is a mentor to Bronx teens. When Rhamel Sanders, 17, climbs into the Morris Park Boxing Club ring, Davis remembers the dream.

“Keep an eye on the kid,” he said, nodding at Sanders. “The kid is special.”

Davis grew up in Bronxdale. He learned to box at the age of five, thanks to his father, an accomplished fighter. Early on, Davis developed a reputation for toughness. He knocked Mark Breland to the canvas to become a WBA champ.

“I box to win,” Davis said. “Nothing like it.”

Davis is a fixture at the Morris Park club, where men and women, children and adults bounce, jab and “work the bag.” The club’s youngest fighter is four years old, its eldest 68.

“Boxing is the ultimate workout,” Davis said. “All cardio. One lady got in here and lost 22 pounds in five weeks.”

As a pro fighter, Davis spent time in Paris. He has friends all over the country. Davis is back in the Bronx to keep youngsters like Sanders off the street.

“I like to work with the kids,” he said. “The kids have problems – anger problems, family problems. I tell them to stay away from drugs. If they do bad at school, I suspend them from the gym.”

Davis has never sipped a beer, never puffed a cigarette, never experimented with drugs. He is disciplined, happy. Boxing is a deterrent, Davis said. The teens who learn to fight at the Morris Park club prefer not to fight on the street.

“In the ring, they let that frustration out,” Davis said.

Ismet Sujak is Davis’ biggest fan. His oldest son trained at the club. So did his middle son, Hajro, a professional fighter. Sujak’s youngest son, Bennis, met Davis recently.

“It’s a good gym,” Sujak said. “The best fighters train here and come back. If you want a good, smart kid – try boxing.”

The Sujacks live in Pelham Parkway. Bennis attends St. Barnabus Elementary School. A gentle giant, he doesn’t tolerate bullies.

“I have the biggest muscles in the fifth grade,” Bennis said.

Sanders is also new to the club. He attends CUNY Prep and lives on Allerton Avenue.

“In January, my brother lent me the money and I started to train,” Sanders said. “I was always in trouble before. I like boxing because it keeps me straight. I don’t want to go to jail.”

Sanders is a gifted athlete, lanky and lightning fast. According to Davis, he spars like a veteran. Sanders hope to enter the Golden Gloves soon. His favorite fighters are Floyd Mayweather, Mike Tyson and…Aaron Davis.

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