March 26, 2019 Staff Report
A local boxing gym has started offering free self-defense classes to area residents and organizations following a string of violent crimes that have recently occurred in Sunnyside.
Nelson Maldonado, a Sunnyside native who operates Supreme Team Boxing under the name “Coach Neslon” at 34-09 Queens Blvd., is offering a free fitness class at his gym every Wednesday at 8 p.m. titled, “Community Self-Defense Night.”
The purpose of these classes, he says, is to teach students of any age how to defend themselves from assault, and for neighborhood residents to feel prepared should they ever fall victim to an attack.
Maldonado said he was inspired to launch the program after reading an article in the Sunnyside Post about a recent string of violent crimes.
“I felt like I had to do something to help the community feel safer after reading that people were going around beating up random strangers,” Maldonado said.
He added that an additional call to action came after Sunnyside Ballet Studio owner Yasko Takeno-Williams told him that an unidentified man had attempted to assault her daughter outside the CVS Pharmacy at 41-08 Queens Blvd. on March 15.
According to Takeno-Williams, her 12-year-old daughter was walking on the sidewalk outside of the drug store at around 9:45 p.m. The alleged perpetrator, whom her daughter did not see approaching on the same sidewalk, allegedly extended his hand toward the 12-year-old in an attempted assault as he walked by. She managed to get out of his way but was unable to see the direction in which he went.
Upon learning about this incident, Supreme Team Boxing owner Nelson Maldonado decided to test pilot his new brand of self-defense classes with participating students at Sunnyside Ballet Studio, which is located at 49-02 Queens Blvd, on Friday, March 22.
The two hour class took place under the supervision of Takeno-Williams and three coaches from Supreme Team Boxing.
Participants from Friday’s class, many of whom were ballet students still in uniform, were taught different methods of self-defense. They were shown how to temporarily “disable” an opponent by placing their hands firmly on a would-be attacker’s shoulders, then using their knee to strike the crotch area.
Once their opponent is stunned – by this technique or any of the others that the students had learned – children were taught to then run to the nearest open storefront and call 911.
Upon completion of the class, Skylar Sullivan, 10, said she believed that that the class was very beneficial.
“Girls need to defend themselves,” she said. “If ballerinas need to become boxers and turn pirouettes into punches, then that’s what we need to do.”
The next Community Self-Defense Night will be held on Wednesday, March 27 at 8 p.m. at Supreme Team Boxing (34-09 Queens Blvd.) and on every Wednesday in April.
These classes will be free and open to the public, however participants will be required to register in advance through the gym’s website.