Growing up Al Silva was a kid from a very poor family who spent a lot of time on the streets.  His future was uncertain until he met Ted DeLancey, a clothing store owner who became his mentor and helped him become a constructive person by channeling Al Silva’s energy into boxing. 
That energy would lead him to become two-time Chicago Golden Gloves Champion in the novice division in 1960 and 1961. Today he is the proud trainer of kids whom he doesn’t want to see “become another statistic and falling through the cracks,” says Mr. Silva.
Mr. Silva began boxing in 1958 and started training kids out of his garage in 1964.  Today he heads the Jon Russell Boxing Club inside the Rock Falls American Legion, 712 4th Ave. Rock Falls, Ill., training kids as young as eight.  He trained his son, Jeff Silva who also became a two-time Chicago Gloves Champion in 1980 and1981.  Jeff trained professionally and won the Ill. state championship, he finished his career with a record of 43 wins and 3 loses, and was rated seventh in the world at one point.  Al made sure his children got more than skills in the ring telling them to take up a trade because the window of opportunity in boxing can be a short one.  Just like he demanded of his son, he expects those who train in his club to do well in school.
“If they don’t keep their grades up, they don’t have the privilege of traveling to boxing shows,” Mr. Silva says.
Parents sometimes don’t even let the kids train at the club until they improve their grades. 
He says that what really matters is what is best for those who train, and in situations that might jeopardize a future bout, he simply tells them, “it’s OK, as soon as you get your grades up, come on back.”
While some might not make it to become world champions they will learn to be disciplined and develop character in their lives. 
“Winning or loosing is not important, because I think when a kid comes into the gym and he gets inside the ring he’s already a winner,” said Mr. Silva. 
In addition to teaching boxing Mr. Silva wants to work with battered kids.  He recalls the times when Ted DeLancey would take him to different bouts, feed him, and just helped in many ways.  He asked DeLancey how he could ever repay him, he told Silva to find a troubled kid and do what he did. 
The club doesn’t have any fees and is open to everyone.   To fund costs associated with the club, Mr. Silva created the non-for-profit, Silva Enterprises and is organizing a Pro-Amateur show for Sat. April 22, at the Latin American Social Club, 2708 West Lincoln Way, Sterling, Ill.  The event includes 3 professional bouts one featuring Bruce Rumbolz, a locals of Sterling/Rock Falls, and a professional women’s bout.  There will be about 13 fights with fighters from all over the Midwest and possibly some from the Quad Cites.   
He is also working on bringing a boxing club from Puerto Rico to go up against fighters from the Midwest this Sept. 

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