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Baruch public safety officer reminisces about his days as a championship boxer

If you ever bump into Baruch College Security Officer Winfield Braithwaite boxing at Baruch’s gym, don’t be alarmed — he’s just perfecting his craft. 

Braithwaite’s journey begins in his adolescent years when he was witnessing playful fist fights at his school in Guyana. He was only 15 years old when he decided to follow in his cousin’s professional boxing footsteps. 

“My mother never wanted me to box,” he reminisces. “Then, one Sunday I got away with my cousins and they asked me if I wanted to fight and I said okay, and the guy was about 25 pounds more than me and I fought and won unknown to my mom, and the next day it was in the newspapers.” 

Guyana would usually host professional boxing tournaments, and Braithwaite’s brand became publicized. However, his mother was not pleased. He was let off with a warning to never box again, but his passion and dedication to boxing — along with modest accolades — was enough to make Braithwaite’s mother stay silent. 

“I made it all the way here,” he said in amazement. As Braithwaite reminisced about his journey to America, he described the diverse belt of championships he secured. 

He fought around the world — traveling to Cuba and competing in a world championship, winning a bronze medal in Jamaica and then returning to Cuba for another bronze medal at the Cardin boxing games. 

Perhaps the most intense dive into fame for Braithwaite was his gold medal in boxing for the Light Welterweight division in the 1978 Commonwealth games, a widely recognized and professional sports tournament. 

“My push was to be a better fighter because America had very good fighters, I could’ve made it,” he said. 

With a winning streak, it seemed almost impossible for Braithwaite to stop. Now, he’s been retired for over 20 years.

Braithwaite moved to America to pursue his dreams of becoming a household name. However, due to managerial issues, he decided to take a step back, realizing that the company representing him refused to release his contract.

His life also began to unravel in a different direction. 

“I was living on my own just to pay my bills,” he said. Braithwaite then decided to pursue his role at Baruch with much confidence, but still dedicates time to cheering on the profession.

“I watch it every now and again and so forth and give my opinion and who I think would win the fights and me and my friends hold parties.”

His present days at Baruch are not so closely aligned to his past, but Braithwaite states that his career as a professional boxer has taught him the concept of discipline — a skill that is hard to master and even harder to implement. 

“That was my career but before then, I was also in the army in Guyana for five or six years working out, training and boxing,” he said. 

Almost every day, Braithwaite heads down to Baruch’s gym and practices his boxing skills with some students in a class-like setting.

After students approached him to suggest creating a boxing class, Braithwaite workshopped the idea to try to make it come to life. 

“I was trying to get a class here because a lot of students want to box here,” he said.

“I spoke to the Dean of Students and he told me to get about seven to eight students to come to his office and say that they wanted to be in a boxing class.”

The 65-year-old officer has no plans in stopping his passion even after retiring. His dedication to keeping his legacy alive through his current occupation is one to applaud. 

“My life hasn’t changed much after boxing because boxing is still the person within me,” he said happily. 

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