For a lot of years, Bethlehem has been fertile ground for athletes. Over the years, young boys and girls have nurtured their skills and have seen success. For some, their success has taken them to unimagined heights. For many, their success started as a dream.
There have been children who resided in public housing who have risen to academic and athletic success. Ronald Cruz is an example of a current BHA resident who followed his dream and who, very recently rose to the top of his profession through hard work and dedication. Here is Ronald's story in his own words:
" I followed the sport of boxing as a die hard fan since being a little kid and it all started from watching Rocky movies. Since then I dreamed with being a boxer. I didn't get into training boxing until the late age of 19 since there wasn't a gym to go too close to me in south side Bethlehem. My mother being a single mother moved to Bethlehem looking for better living for her three boys including myself when I was 10 years old. Unfortunately my older brother got into drugs and passed away from an overdose 4 years later at only age 24. I was 13 at the time. With my middle brother being not much older then me, I didn't have a father figure to discipline me. I myself started picking up bad habits like smoking marijuana, partying, drinking and hanging out with the wrong crowd. After not graduating, dropping out of 11th grade I spent some more time doing nothing with my life. I got a girl pregnant who I didn't have a serious relation ship with. Still with being "off track" I never stopped dreaming of being a boxer. Before my daughter was born I met Daisy, the lady who I later married. After putting my mother through suffering, having a daughter, and getting into a serious relationship with Daisy, I decided to try and change my life. I quit all the bad habits and started pursuing my dream of becoming a boxer. Daisy was selected to live in Bethlehem housing in 2006. I moved in with her on the lease months after. We got married one year ago. A very good friend picked me up everyday and we traveled to Larry Holmes' gym to train. Luckily a boxing gym opened right on Southside in 2007 and there I was from day one, training with my trainer Lemuel Rodriguez. I took boxing so seriously that I turned professional only after one year of competing as an amateur. Here I am still today with a record of 17-0 12ko's. I'm currently the WBC continental champion and still living the dream I never gave up on. My advice to youngsters is to focus on success, don't be afraid to dream big dreams and try to find a positive mentor. Whether it is boxing, golf, art or academics, kids from public housing can succeed but you have to be responsible for that success or for any failures."
Meet WBC champion Ronald Cruz