Sometime in 2008 my young neighbor who lived across the street from me, Patrick Day, all of 14 years old wandered into my garage and started hitting my heavy bag.
Our block and neighborhood were very active with kids running around playing. We had a basketball hoop in front of my house. So many of the kids would play ball and choose up sides, including my Son and Patrick’s brothers who were older than Patrick.
My garage was always open. Inside was a complete gym. You know the typical bench press, dumbbells, a heavy bag, speed bag, and other assorted stuff. Growing up with my brothers and friends we always worked out in garages and basements prior to fitness gyms being businesses. So naturally, when I became a homeowner I made sure I had a gym in my garage.
My garage was always open for two reasons. One, I liked the fresh air while working out and two, I always invited people to come train if they were interested. It’s just how we grew up, our Father was from the Jack LaLanne era and always encouraged us to be physically fit.
When the young teenage Patrick Day walked into my garage he started to hit the heavy bag. I was in the laundry room and heard the banging. I came into the garage and “busted his chops” for entering without permission. He was instantly polite and apologized, but I was really just giving him the business.
I noticed he was a bit wild hitting the bag so I showed him how to wrap his hands and how to throw a left jab and a straight right hand. Low and behold he followed the instruction and wrapped his hands pretty well and also threw his punches straight as an arrow after I demonstrated it. He went on to do it a hundred times.
It seemed Patrick became a regular with asking permission every day to hit the bag. Each day he looked better and better. Soon he was on to the speed bag, jump rope, and calisthenics and picked up the rhythm quickly. So finally after a week, I asked him if he was interested in joining a boxing gym. His eyes lit up and he said yes, but he needed to clear it with his Mom. I told him if it’s ok with his Mom you are in luck because I am the Boxing Director and Head Coach for the Freeport Police Athletic League Boxing Club up in Northeast Park behind the Freeport train station.
The Freeport PAL is a 501c3 all-volunteer organization that has been in service to the youth of Freeport Long Island, New York since 1992. We had quite the reputation of putting out competitive boxers during that span and continue to do so today. Multiple Amateur Champions were crowned on every level, but more importantly, multiple young men and women that were mentored had become quality adults. Our goal was always to provide a place for any kid that had nothing to do after school, especially what we refer to as at-risk youth.
Patrick’s Mom was not thrilled with his choice to enter the Amateur boxing ranks and she made that very clear to me. Patrick was an honor roll student and such a fine character kid, not the typical kid that clings to boxing, but boxing became an obsession for him. Patrick would clearly become the most established boxer ever to grace the Freeport PAL BC and we had some accomplished athletes over the years.
Patrick would become a multiple amateur Champion on every level that included: Local events, Regional and National tournaments, and the International level. He would win the Junior Olympics, the USA Boxing qualifiers, the Golden Gloves and would go on to become the #1 152lb amateur boxer in the country. In 2012 Patrick secured the USA Boxing National Championships at 19 years old. He would also defeat the Puerto Rican Olympian. Patrick was so impressive in the ring and recognized by all his peers.
What was more impressive about Patrick was his character. He was equally a Champion outside the ring. Mentally and spiritually he seemed to be on another level. He saw the good in every person. He was adored by everyone he met. His Coaches and Teammates just looked up to him and quite frankly he made us all look at ourselves in the mirror and think about our own character. Patrick had that effect on people. It was contagious. We have all been touched by Patrick in one way or another. If you only had a cup of coffee with him he made an impact on your life.
Prior to winning the USA Boxing National Championship, Patrick graduated from Freeport High School on the National Honor Society. He would go on to get his college degree while choosing to be a professional boxer. Having traveled extensively with Patrick over the years and spending more time with him than my own family, he would become so much more than some kid I trained. Patrick was loved as a family to me and my family.
It was obvious that Patrick was raised so very well. He like his brothers has always been a class act. A close educated hard-working family of Haitian roots that earned everything they work for. A true American dream. Patrick was very close to his mother and went out of his way to recognize that. That trait was very admirable and made me often think of my own Mom.
Patrick made such an impression on me that he actually helped me overcome so many obstacles due to my grief having served as an NYC Firefighter during 9/11. Tragically, on that fateful day, I lost my older brother Tim and 5 members of my firehouse as well as many other colleagues, dear friends, and probationary firefighters I trained at the NYC Fire Academy.
Patrick’s calming demeanor, his faith in Christ, and his pure character helped me become a better version of myself. It helped me deal with PTSD and brought me back to good health. Our talks about life in general really gave each of us a mutual feeling of love and respect. My faith in Christ began to blossom and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Patrick would go on into the professional ranks as a prospect and climb up the ratings. After a setback losing a bout Patrick would be more determined than ever to put that loss behind him. He was so very inspirational. Patrick’s never-give-up style, skill, and grit helped him capture the WBC Intercontinental Championship belt as well as the IBF Continental Championship belt as a Junior Middleweight. He broke into the top ten ratings becoming #9 in the world. A real story of integrity and determination.
On Oct 12th, 2019 in Chicago Patrick would fight undefeated Olympian, Charles Conwell. In the 10th round, Patrick would be gravely injured. He suffered a head injury that took his life at 27 years old after four days in the hospital in the ICU. Our true light had gone dark, our lives have all been drastically changed forever. To this moment writing this letter, I am still so very broken-hearted. I always think about what we could have done differently to avoid that outcome. I think about his Mom not liking his choice to be a fighter. I thank God each day for having had Patrick in my life. I often think about what we would be doing today. I know he is with me because it was his faith that helped me with mine. I truly believe I will see him again, God willing. I love you, Patrick.
We at the Freeport PAL BC are dedicated to honoring this one of a kind beautiful human being. We have been given permission by the Village of Freeport to expand our current space and dedicate it as the new Patrick Day youth mentoring gym to serve all Freeport Athletes in every category. Our dream is to tell Patrick’s story and make sure his memory continues to be remembered. That his inspirational life can influence other youth that may not normally have those opportunities.
Patrick’s story is inspiring and unique both in and out of the ring. He was such a wonderful role model. Someone to model yourself after. The Freeport PAL BC feels we can expand our success and provide state-of-the-art strength and conditioning training and mentor all student-athletes to scholarships, not just boxers. We are certified to the highest USA Boxing levels. We intend to include, tutoring, home economics, trade school training, and craftsmen training. We intend to get everyone a job as we have ties to many local professionals.
We can point everyone in a direction that seems a likely path for each individual to include: Education, relationships with employment agencies, the Military, Labor Unions, Police, Firefighters, all civil services, and all paths that lead to becoming productive members of society. We have had great success over the years producing more than just boxing Champions.
We would like to bring those numbers off the charts with life Champions in honor of our hero Patrick Day. I couldn’t think of a better way to remember such a wonderful young man who made an impression on so many lives at such a young age. We think about how many more lives he would have influenced if he was still with us. We intend to continue that legacy reaching the unreachable in his honor.
Would you be interested in continuing Patrick’s legacy by helping us create a place that can help our youth and young adults become superstars and givers to society? Any donation is worthy. Time, talent, or treasure. Thank you for reading this letter of intention and considering being part of such a tremendously worthy cause.
In memory of Patrick Day (All Day Every Day)
Freeport PAL President | Boxing Director USMC Boxing Head Coach – Camp Lejeune