East Brunswick police officer Chaz Nguyen found his life purpose through boxing, and hopes to one day share his love for the sport with at-risk youth to improve the community.
Nguyen explained how as a child he was in and out of the hospital due to a rare genetic disorder, and boxing eventually gave him hope.
“From the ages of 1-14, I had over 15 neck surgeries to deal with a rare birth defect called a branchial cleft remnant. I would have at least one surgery a year, sometimes even multiple a year, and I would be forced to miss large amounts of school and sports,” he said.
At 18, Nguyen learned mixed martial arts, and won first place in an International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament, but unfortunately injured his knee.
While recovering, Nguyen discovered his passion for boxing.
“It was shortly after recovering that I was introduced to boxing and discovered my passion for the sport. I was inspired to box by the chance to prove myself,” Nguyen said.
After working with mentors Joe Rossi, head of YESS boxing club, and boxing coach Al Artola, he won both the Golden Glove and Diamond Glove tournaments in New Jersey.
This achievement coincided with his interest in the judicial system and his law enforcement career aspirations. After going through academy training, Nguyen was officially sworn in as a New Brunswick police officer in 2018.
Nguyen told CentralJersey.com that he hopes to combine his passion for law enforcement with that of boxing by mentoring at-risk youth.
“Within my role as a police officer, I have learned through my department that police-community relationships are incredibly important, and I would love to someday find a way to give back to my community by mentoring young boxers,” he said.
Nguyen believes that boxing has many character-building benefits, instilling confidence, patience, discipline, and self-control.
“Boxing has taught me countless lessons throughout my life. It has taught me to be disciplined and to never give up on your goals. It teaches patience and waiting for the right opportunities. It teaches how paying attention to little things can make your life easier,” he said.
“It teaches you how to cope with stress and to make the best of any situation. It teaches you to not let your anger take control of your actions. Boxing also gives you confidence in yourself, and can show you what you’re truly capable of.”
While Nguyen said these attributes are especially important in the law enforcement profession, they can be applied more generally to life itself.
“These lessons can be applied to anything you do in life, especially in law enforcement, where you may not know what stress you may encounter during your shift,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen added that joining a gym is a healthy and positive place for young people.
“I absolutely see boxing as a healthy alternative for at-risk youth. The majority of gyms that I have seen have very strict contracts that they have students sign when joining their gyms.”
Some of these conditions include keeping grades up and not using any fighting skills for negative purposes.
“Gyms not only help give structure and routine to these students’ daily lives, but also helps them to build discipline and pride within themselves. Boxing in a gym is much more than simply ‘fighting.’ The majority of your time is spent on strength building, cardio, skills building, speed building, etc.,” Nguyen explained.