COMEBACKING GRACESKI TRIES TO REAP WHAT HE HAS "SEWN"
Press Release: Reinaldo Graceski would love to one day walk in Miguel Cotto’s shoes, or those of any other elite fighter. For now, he’ll settle for sharing the same trunks. A 24-year-old light heavyweight from Springfield, Mass., Graceski (2-0) is looking to revive his once-dormant boxing career while balancing fatherhood and finances. When he’s not in the ring showcasing his trademark style, he’s hunkering down behind the sewing machine making sure others look just as sharp. As the founder of his own boxing clothing line, Seek & Destroy Boxing Gear, Graceski sews custom-made trunks, robes and cornerman jackets for fighters throughout the world, including Cotto and many local favorites. He even sewed the trunks Puerto Rican standout Carlos Quintana wore in 2008 the night he defeated then-unbeaten welterweight champion Paul Williams. “My mother used to make my trunks when I was an amateur,” Graceski said, “but she just got tired of it after a while. I used to fight all the time and I always wanted new trunks, so she finally showed me how to do it myself. In the beginning, it wasn’t always easy, but I’ve got the hang of it now. That’s my money-maker.”
Born in Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican mother and a Dominican father with Polish roots, Graceski hopes his business connections – along with his ability inside the ring – can open new doors within the boxing community.
After recently signing a promotional agreement with Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports, his on-again, off-again career finally appears to be back on right track. Graceski will return to the ring Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 at Twin River Casino in a rematch against Queens native Borngod Washington (3-12, 1 KO) on the undercard of Peter Manfredo Jr.’s return to Rhode Island.
“I want to be a world champion in different weight classes and eventually make my way up to heavyweight,” said Graceski, who’s lived and trained in Springfield for the past 15 years. “In boxing, it’s an honor to be a world champion in any weight class, but that heavyweight title, that’s what [Muhammad] Ali had, it’s what [Mike] Tyson had. It’ll take a few years, but that’s one of my dreams.”
“The biggest thing with Ray is we need a face for what we’re doing up here,” said Graceski’s manager and founder of the Beast Elite Gym in Springfield, Robert Hersey. “He’s Puerto Rican, Polish, Dominican, American – he represents a big melting pot. In two years, we think Ray will be headlining cards.
“When he walked through the doors, he was just wandering in the breeze with no direction,” Hersey continued. “I felt bad. He was a product of our area. Boxing sort of let him down, but I have the resources to make his dream come true, and that is what I’ll do.”
Graceski fought more than 60 bouts as an amateur, advancing to the Golden Gloves National Championships in 2005 and later representing Puerto Rico twice in the Pan American games, but the birth of his daughter in 2007 temporarily derailed his career.
“I started working two jobs just to support my family,” he said. “I didn’t even fight at all in 2009.”
By then, Graceski was 21 and had been inactive for almost two years. In the meantime, he had sewn the trunks Carlos Quintana wore in 2008 the night he defeated then-unbeaten welterweight champion Paul Williams. But soon after, his brother gave him an ultimatum – get back in the ring now, or you’ll regret it when you’re too old to fight. Graceski chose the former; he revived his amateur career in 2010 and advanced to the finals of the Golden Gloves Tournament in Lowell, Mass., before making his professional debut a month later with a win over Paul Gonsalves.
Shortly thereafter, Graceski’s career hit another roadblock when he learned his mother had cancer, which kept him out of the ring for nearly two years until she recovered. “I really wasn’t feeling it anymore,” he said.
“She’s healthy now, but it wasn’t easy. After that, I told myself I’d give boxing one more try or I’d have to find another job.”
Graceski quickly linked up with Hersey, whose gym opened this past summer, and made his second – and hopefully his final – comeback on May 5th, beating Washington by unanimous decision.
As he pursues his dream of winning multiple world titles, Graceski continues to operate his clothing line, which, for now, is a viable source of revenue while he continues to build toward a much bigger prize in the ring. If all goes well, Graceski will soon be sewing his own trunks for a world title fight instead of someone else’s.
As for what he plans on wearing Nov. 29, that – along with the game plan inside the ring – remains a well-kept secret.
“Trust me, they’ll look good,” Graceski said. “I’ve got to shine.”
Tickets can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254, online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River, or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.
In thhe main event, Peter Manfredo Jr. will face Pittsburgh’s Rayco Saunders (22-18-2, 9 KOs). The show also features the return of Providence super middleweight Vladine Biosse (14-1-1, 7 KOs) along with a six-round super middleweight intrastate showdown between Alex Amparo (5-0, 3 KOs) of Providence and Joe Gardner (9-5-1, 1 KO) of Woonsocket.
Middleweight Thomas Falowo (8-1, 6 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., will face Julio Garcia (5-3, 3 KOs) of Boston (Rincon, Puerto Rico) in a six-round bout; female bantamweight Shelito Vincent (5-0) of Providence (New London, Conn.) will battle unbeaten Rosie Thomas (2-0) of Ottawa, Canada; and Burlington, Vt. (Willimantic, Conn.), light heavyweight Kevin Cobbs (6-0, 2 KOs) will face Tylon Burris (3-0, 2 KOs) of Hartford, Conn.