In the beginning of June, the New York Times‘s Corey Kilgannon did a profile of a man named Johnny DeVincenzo. The 5’2″ Brooklyn native has a raw reputation for doing one thing: punching steel poles all over New York. You might ask, why would anyone do such a thing? Doesn’t that hurt… a lot?
But, for DeVincenzo, the steel pole punching is a skill he acquired during his darkest days. The 70-year-old man spent twenty years in prison for a fatal incident with a rival that involved a firearm. That was in the Eighties, though; now, DeVicenzo is a changed man with a passion for growing himself both physically and mentally.
In prison, he began punching steel poles to calm his nerves and develop as a fighter. It all started when a fellow inmate bet him that he couldn’t do “knuckle push-ups;” once he did, he realized that, if he wore out his knuckles, he could win a lot of money for his family.
Now, twenty years later, DeVicenzo has become a local legend around Riverside Park and Uptown Manhattan, where he now finds himself living. A short film has been made about his life and his knuckles but, what’s more amazing, is that he is 70 years old. And it doesn’t seem like he plans on stopping his urban boxing obsession anytime soon.
Hopefully, DeVincenzo’s story will inspire you to take on some of our boxing lessons in NYC. If not, well, at least you got to hear this story.