Phoenix boxing gym vandalized

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PHOENIX -- A Phoenix boxing gym was vandalized by suspected gang members Monday night. The gym runs a training and mentoring program for at-risk youth, and police believe that might be why it was targeted.

The vandals broke into Chavez Boxing Gym on Seventh Avenue near Missouri Avenue and cut the ropes on the boxing ring, slashed punching backs and left threatening graffiti inside the owner’s office.

“I was disgusted, just devastated,” owner Pete Chavez said.

Chavez runs the Chavez Boxing Foundation within the gym to give young people a safe place to gain strength and confidence. He started the program because he says he knows what it’s like to grow up around gangs and drugs without anyone to guide him.

“What I try to do is prevent kids from going through the same thing I went through, being around gangs in a single-parent home,” he said. “We actually have contracts we make our students sign. No involvement with gangs, no fighting, they have to be in school.”

Police believe the vandalism may have been an act of retaliation from gang members who are angry Chavez is steering young people away from them.

“He's not doing anything to them personally, so it has to be that they've decided they're going to have this small war against him for trying to do good in the community,” said Phoenix Police Detective James Holmes.>

Training continued as usual Tuesday but many of the children and teens said they were upset about the vandalism.>

Chavez estimates the damage will cost more than $1,000 in repairs and replacements.

Phoenix police are asking anyone with information to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (948-6377), 1-800-343-TIPS (8477) or 480-TESTIGO (837-8446).