'It's a total tragedy for the kids, not for me': Youth boxing gym destroyed by fire

By Japhanie Gray - Reporter, Jennifer Galvan - Photojournalist, Joe Herrera - Photojournalist

SAN ANTONIO - A boxing gym dedicated to building self-esteem for the youth of the west side burned down early Saturday morning and now the executive director for the Advocate Youth Boxing Program wants the city to step up.

“We had training scheduled this morning,” Jason Mata, the executive director said. “Thankfully nobody was here when this all happened.”

Mata said they lost everything and believes the fire was intentionally set.

“We have to find a way to replace all of this,” Mata said. “This should not lie on us. The city needs to act like they care about the things we deal with on this side of town and do something about this.”

Mata said he has brought safety and crime concerns to city officials on several occasions.

“They say get the community involved and call the police ourselves,” Mata said. “That doesn’t work. Stuff like this (the fire) happens. The city has to be more active.”

He said he had a meeting with the mayor and city council about his concerns.

“We need to do a Westside summit or bring in more resources for the safety of our kids in this community,” Mata said. “I am just very frustrated because someone could have gotten killed.”

Unfortunately, he said he doesn’t think they will be able to recover from this loss.

“This was a 100 percent avoidable,” Mata said. “I have been getting a lot of calls and I have just been so upset. I don’t want any calls right now. Instead, I want someone to do something about this. I want the city to stop acting like they are the only person in the world and care about others in this community.”

Mata said though he doesn’t know how they are going to come back, he hopes the children in the program continue to be strong and build the people they want to be.

“This program is giving them an outlet and showing them that there are other people that care about them so they can go to high school and go to college,” Mata said. “This is another challenge they have to deal with, but we will deal with it together so we will be ok.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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