Azteca Youth Enrichment

195 W. Montcalm Avenue
Pontiac, MI 48342




Even though most of the city of Pontiac's recreation centers have been boarded up because of the city's financial situation, there's one local center that's teeming with activity four nights a week during the school season.

The Azteca Youth Enrichment center at 195 W. Montcalm Avenue is home base for the Azteca amateur boxing team and the Azteca Folkloric Dance Group. The center is a beehive of activity Monday through Thursday with youths of every size, age, nationality, and walk of life, learning how to condition their body and mind through activities that demand their full attention and discipline.

The organization is an all-volunteer group that had its roots in 1973 as an off-shoot of the Azteca Athletic Club which was founded in 1949 as a men's baseball club. The athletic club had also sponsored little league baseball teams, men's softball teams, bowling teams, a mixed bowling league and a men's golf league. In 1973 the Azteca Boxing Team was formed and in 1988 they were incorporated as a non-profit and grated IRS tax-exempt status in 1990.

The Montcalm Avenue property was formerly 60 ft. x 40 ft. motorcycle shop which was converted into a boxing gym. In 2001, the group was granted a HUD block grant by the city of Pontiac, and began the demolition of the old building to replace it with a 60 ft. x 75 ft. steel frame building. The group had to match the amount of the grant, which they did with fund raising, contributions, in-kind donations, and volunteer labor from the community at large. The lot next to the building on the east side, was purchased by Mr. Gordon Hartunian of ABC Warehouse, who graciously leases it to Azteca for $1.00 a month for much needed parking space.

"Because we are a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, we rely totally on fund raising events and public donations to operate our programs," says boxing director Bob Paramo. "When we have available funds, we do other activities, like field trips and community projects for the kids. In fact, before the economy took a nose dive, we were open five days a week!"

Meantime, the center is home to 20 to 30 boxers 4 nights a week, and 10 to 20 dancers twice a week, a newly formed 4H club, as well as a community computer center, thanks to board member Hazel Cadd and Representative Tim Melton. "Some of these kids wouldn't have any place to hang out other than the streets, if it wasn't for Azteca, it's been like that for over 36 years. While they're here, they learn about mental and physical discipline, self-worth and self-esteem, sportsmanship and fair play, about team-work and camaraderie, about the importance of getting an education, and having drug-free friends in a drug-free environment." added Paramo.

The need for funds is never-ending, and now more than ever. Tax-deductible contributions may be made to Azteca Youth Enrichment, Inc. And sent to 195 W. Montcalm Ave., Pontiac, MI 48342. Please call (248) 332-6514 if you need more information.