'Secret Mill­ionaire' helps build SA gym

Charlie Mata Boxing Center receives funding

SAN ANTONIO - Jeff Usner kept a big secret from Jason Mata.

The millionaire San Antonian told Mata he wanted to volunteer with the Charlie Mata Boxing Center, named after Jason's dad, a former boxer who still has a heart for teaching at-risk youth the value of life through the sport.

Usner couldn't have come at a better time.

The center was struggling to come up with the cash to stock the gym with equipment, finish the ring and pave the driveway. Mata said time was closing in and they needed to finish the work in order to keep all the money they'd received from the federal government. Otherwise, they would have had to return it all. Mata said he was so desperate, he was about to take out loans and sacrifice his own home.

"We put a lot into this program," he said. "We put our own money into this. We put a lot of energy, we sacrificed a lot of family time."

Usner's check for $35,000 exceeded the goal Mata needed to complete the project. Usner's donation and center's story aired on ABC's "Secret Millionaire" Sunday evening.

Now, Mata wants to keep going and add a new parking area and add an awning to the ring. He also wants to convert the next-door building into a computer lab and food pantry. Mata said that would help secure grants the boxing ring alone couldn't bring in.

The gift has been much more than one of money but of hope as well.

"We're grateful for that and Jeff Usner had also did a tremendous thing and really helped the advocates at a time where we were trying to figure out how we were going to fill the gym with equipment," said District 5 Councilman David Medina, who represents the West Side.

Nora Duarte, 15, said the center is important in her life.

"It's getting me away, so I won't fall into drugs," she said. "So, I will respect more, listen well. I'll become a better person."


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