"Anything we can do for PAL is good for the community," Vermeer said. "We would love to have a boxing program — it brings out a lot of the kids we are trying to reach."
To do that, PAL will have to acquire funding from the city, bring in coaches and provide a dedicated space for training. Last week Vermeer said he was optimistic about meeting those challenges because of the buzz he has noticed since his announcement.
Vermeer doesn't have to look far to find someone who has experience in these matters: council member Nick Galiotto, a former cop who started the city's first PAL chapter 37 years ago.
"When I founded PAL in 1970, I was a lieutenant," Galiotto wrote in an e-mail. "I had just established the PD's first community relations unit. I was looking for ways to build positive interactions with our officers, so resident ride-alongs, neighborhood watch, block parents, citizenship classes in middle schools and PAL were started."
One of the first activities Galiotto pursued was the boxing league for kids 8 to 18 years old. The league used a portable boxing ring so that bouts could be hosted in larger school gyms where audiences could watch.
The team even went on the road, traveling to nearby cities including San Jose, Morgan Hill, Redwood City and Hayward. Galiotto said that on a few occasions, Mountain View youth made it all the way to the "golden gloves" competition at the state level.
"Many of the participants didn't engage in school sports and found personal achievement through discipline and individual effort," Galiotto said.
From 1976 to 1987 there was a dedicated PAL building where the Shoreline fire station now sits. The program eventually was phased out, followed by the "Officer PAL" speaking robot that presented safety talks to elementary school students.
The most active PAL boxing program in the county is in Santa Clara, where teenagers and young adults have enjoyed a dedicated training space for many years, sometimes going on to national-level amateur boxing.
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