About » About Ray
Raymond M. Rinaldi is a native Central New Yorker, born in Solvay, raised on the Northside of Syracuse, in a family of 12 children. Ray’s parents were Italian immigrants who instilled hard work and honesty in their children.
Ray attended Syracuse City schools and Syracuse University. He is married to Florence (Rogers), a union that currently stands at over 60 years! They have one child, Christine, two grandsons, Dustin and Damian, and 3 great granddaughters, Chayse, Vienna, and Devon.
Ray went into the army in July of 1954 and established himself in the field of boxing. In Germany, he was in the famous 4th Infantry Division, where he was a trainer and Head Coach of the Division boxing team. His teams had competitions throughout the European Theater of Operations, winning most of their matches. Ray also coached several fine boxers in the Army who eventually became top ranked amateurs and some that did very well in the professional ranks.
Ray was an amateur boxer as a youth and had a dream of becoming a professional boxer. His record stood at 28 wins and 2 losses when his dream was shattered. Just one month away from becoming a professional boxer, a car struck him. Receiving a severe head injury, his career as a boxer was abruptly ended. Ray never lost his love for boxing and has actively been involved with boxing for 57 years, as an Elite Coach and trainer, with the Golden Gloves, Silver Gloves, Pan American Games, and US Championships.
During the years that followed, he worked in a different field to earn money to care for his family’s financial needs, but his heart was always in the boxing ring. Continuing to coach and train boxers, he dreamed of owning a large facility where young people in the community could learn to box and other youth at risk services could be offered. Ray firmly believes that boxing can be the road to success for anyone, especially for the young kids that other people and other community centers have given up on.
17 years ago, his dream became a reality. The North Area Athletic and Education Center, purchased by his not for profit organization, opened its doors in a very large, old building on the Northside of Syracuse. Not long ago the area had been a predominately Italian, working class neighborhood. Currently, this same neighborhood is part of the Revitalization Project, keeping out crime and drugs.
The club serves as a training base for a very diverse range of kids: inner city youth with limitless energy and far too much free time on their hands needing an outlet to channel their frustrations into positive directions; professionals including doctors, lawyers, and educators; professional boxers; and the general public all use the center. The facility boasts a champion class training facility, about which Carmen Basilio said, “This place is really something, and it’s not just boxing, there are plenty of other programs here for the kids. Man, what I would given to have had facilities like this back when I was fighting.”
Ray says, “This center has the power to change a kid’s unflattering view of the world ion a week or two.” The New York State Division for Youth wrote that recreation and leisure service programs are the most effective methods of reaching youth at risk. “If the program is a challenging one, youth will come to it voluntarily and they will have more confidence in and trust of the recreation worker than they do of parents and teachers, who are usually seen as ‘Authority Figures’.” Besides boxing, the center also offers drug and Alcohol Counseling, Teen Issues Counseling, Conflict Resolution Counseling, GED programs and other Alternative Education programs.
As do all other not for profit agencies, Ray is always seeking funding to keep to the NAA-EC open and his dream alive. Ray states, “The ceaseless begging for money and services is the worst part of the job.” Although he hates this part of it, he continues doing it because of his two great loves in life: boxing and kids. Ray said, “We’re not trying to make pros out of these kids.” Although, he has trained many successful professional boxers such as Matt Farrago, Rocky Fratto, Frank Duck, Mike Dozier, and Bobby Pilger.
One of Ray’s great amateur success stories that helped him make the decision to start the athletic programming at the center is Marc Mero. Marc won the Golden Gloves when he was 17 years old. Marc went on to use these skills in the World Wrestling Federation and is currently one of the biggest supporters of the North Area Athletic and Education Center.
What is boxing? Unbelievably it is a form of communication. After gaining confidence and building self-esteem, they are able to express themselves and communicate with others much better. Amateur boxing is a sport that allows kids to come in off the streets to a place where people will give then self-respect for their ability.”
Ray becomes very agitated when he hears amateur boxing labeled as a dangerous sport. The message he wants the public to hear that emergency room statistics indicate that there are far fewer injuries suffered in amateur boxing than in most any other sport. The injuries are fewer and the intrinsic rewards of improved self-esteem. Discipline, communication, and respect for self and others are greater than in other sports.
He is the recipient of many awards in his lifetime of service to youth and those in the community who need help. He received Lion of the year Award from the north Syracuse Lions Club, The Man of the Year Award by the Knights of Columbus, Northside Hall of Fame inductee, The Melvin Jones Fellow Award of 1990, The Lions Club President International Award in 1992 as well as the Syracuse Post standard Achievement award winner for 1996.
Ray advocates that the boxing mirrors his life. “There is a deep dedication required to be a winner. You cannot cheat in this sport and everybody who knows the sport, knows that. If you can learn the self discipline required to successfully train as a boxer, you can use those same skills to succeed in life.” Rays life is a testimonial to this philosophy.
|1970-1995||North Syracuse Lions Club – Lion of the Year award|
|1979||Patriot of the Year – by Knights of Columbus|
|1986||Ring of 76 award – for working with youth|
|1990||Melvin Jones award – for working with youth|
|1991-1992||Canastota Lions Club – honor dedication to youth|
|1997||Liverpool Optimist Club Special Achievement award|
|1997||Became treasurer and member of the Executive Board for Golden Gloves of America – Reelected 4 times until 2007.|
|1998||International Boxing Hall of Fame Appreciation award|
|1999||As Franchise holder for Syracuse Golden Gloves Charities. Ray brought the National Golden Gloves Tournament of Champions to Syracuse. First time ever held in New York State.|
|2001||Inducted to the Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.|
|2002-2003||Brought the National Junior Golden Gloves to Syracuse, N.Y.|
|2003||Ray was awarded the Certificate of Excellence – Parents for the Public Schools of Syracuse, Inc.|
|2004||Elected to the Northside Hall of Fame|
|2005||Dominick Tassone donated building @ 307 S. Geddes St. – Became Syracuse Golden Gloves Athletic and Education Center. In the first year they serviced over 700 youngsters.|
|2007||adding 5000 sq foot building on Geddes Street|
All the awards received were for a life dedication to helping youth at risk.
He was honored in the Milwaukee Italian Fest in July 2001 alongside other great Italians including Frankie Avalon, Carmen Basilio, Joey Giardello and Angelo Dundee.
He was also honored by Senator John DeFransico on 2/6/1996 for Legislative Resolution #2339 and the Legislative Resolution #465 on 3/26/1997 by Assemblyman Michael Bragman.
*Footnote: Started working as a trainer for the World Wrestling Federation Brawl for All. 7/14/98 – 7/29/98 & 8/12/98 – 8/25/98
Appeared in WWF Wrestle Mania pay per view 3/28/1999 with Marc Mero vs. Butterbean
Appeared on World Championship Wrestling (WCW) with Marc Mero at Syracuse War Memorial