Boxer Sergio Martinez reaches out to Middletown bullied teen
MIDDLETOWN — A boxing champion is reaching out to a bullied Middletown teen, inviting her to join him as his guest at an upcoming fight.
Monique McClain, a seventh-grader at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, will join middleweight boxer Sergio Martinez at Foxwoods Casino on Thursday, meeting the fighter and then being his special guest at the weigh-in.
McClain left school in January after months of harassment from other students. Her mother, Alycia, and grandmother, Alexa, say the school system hasn't done enough to protect her.
McClain's boxing coach, Johnny Callas, set up the event and said he and McClain are excited for the opportunity. A social worker, Callas coaches boxing to Monique and two dozen other Middletown children in the Champions of Life program at the Lion's Den. The program teaches at-risk Middletown youth about life skills and personal development, as well as boxing.
“I was thrilled that I could pull this off as a coach,” Callas said.
Martinez, Callas explained, is an active campaigner against domestic violence and that piqued his interest in McClain's story.
“Obviously, this isn't domestic violence, but it's certainly violence,” Callas said.
Callas said Martinez was inspired to help after he heard McClain's story.
“He's a great fighter,” Callas said, “and a real sweetheart mensch of a guy as well.”
Callas said he had contacted Martinez and his promoter, Lou DiBella, telling them “I have this great young lady. All the systems have let her down.”
Callas said DiBella has an interest in helping bullying victims since he's campaigned to eliminate violence in New York City public schools.
Alycia McClain said she and her daughter were thrilled about the chance to meet Martinez.
“That's probably the only positive thing she can get excited about,” she said.
Martinez has a record of 46-2-2 with 25 KOs, he is fighting undefeated Serhiy Dzinziruk (37-0) on Saturday night for the vacant WBC Diamond middleweight title.