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“Teddy Dinner” scores a KO!

Story by Socrates Bustamante
Photos by Marty Rosengarten / Ringside Photos

At the end of the holiday season and on the first day of the New Year, it’s nice to reflect on the good guys in sports who go out of their way to help those in need. One of them is boxing trainer and ESPN2 Friday Night Fights analyst Teddy Atlas.

Always fighting the good fight in his undying efforts to improve the quality of life for those in need, he remembers his Good Samaritan father, and each year he enlists the support of sports and entertainment celebrities to attend the annual Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation Dinner (affectionately nicknamed the “Teddy Dinner” by boxing scribes).

Brandon Jacobs and Gerry Cooney
Brandon Jacobs
Burt Young and Gerry Cooney
Chris Noth and Holt McCallany
Ray Lucas & John Starks
Chris Noth, Teddy Atlas, Holt McCallany
Chuck Wepner and Bert Sugar
Costas Mandylor and Chris Noth
Joseph Gannascoli and Dan Grimaldi
Julie Lederman, Joey Gamache, Steve Weisfeld
Matt Mulligan and Mike Devito
Silent Auction
Teddy Atlas and Brandon Jacbos
Teddy Atlas
Tony Siricco & TJ Quinn

This year - the 13th annual benefit - took place on November 19th at a jam-packed Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island where 1,200 loyal supporters, donors and celebrities gathered for the gala.

“The people of Staten Island are always at the front line of helping people in need,” said Atlas. “They act by coming out to the dinner, buying auction items, making additional donations, whatever it takes to help the Foundation do its work. In these tough times, many organizations have had to cut back or even cancel their benefits. We had to add seven tables to accommodate more people who wanted to be there, many from Staten Island but a lot from all over. I am so appreciative and grateful.”

Teddy was in Russia training heavyweight Alexander Povetkin, but made the longest one-day commute in history, hopping on a plane to make sure he didn’t miss the dinner. The next morning, he was back at the airport to make yet another international flight. But not before he arranged for 1,000 turkeys with all the trimmings to be distributed to less fortunate families in Staten Island in time for Thanksgiving.

“If I've asked them to make that commitment, I'm not going to make the excuse that I'm in Russia, I'm going to be there,” explained Atlas. “Year after year, people come out and support the Foundation, whether they or someone at home might not be feeling well.”

“Like a lot of things in life,” he added, “it is your choice if you want to get things done. How inconvenient or uncomfortable it might be often dictates whether you make that choice. I preach that to others, and expect them to live up to those ideas, so every once in a while you have to do the same thing.”

Of course, the boxing community gathered en masse to support their friend Teddy and his noble cause.

The boxing “Who’s Who” list that attended the gala included former giants of the ring Iran Barkley, Gerry Cooney, Chuck Wepner, and Renaldo Snipes, and historian Bert Sugar.

Among the many headliners from the rest of the sports world on hand to support the cause were New York Giants star running back Brandon Jacobs, former Knicks star guard John Starks and Colorado Rockies standout right handed hurler and New York product Jason Marquis, plus leading jockeys Rajiv Maragh and Mike Luzzi.

Sopranos cast members Tony Sirico and Joe Gannascoli, along with television star Chris Noth (The Good Wife; Sex and The City; and Law & Order) joined the long list of personalities at the benefit.

Comic Jeff Pirrami returned as co-host of the festivities, joining “Friday Night Fights” host Brian Kenny at the microphone.

The evening included the wide array of celebrities, a memorabilia auction, and the presentation of the annual “Teddy” Awards.

The Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that provides financial and emotional support to individuals and organizations in need, and focuses primarily on the needs of children. It was founded in 1997 by boxing trainer, commentator and motivational speaker Teddy Atlas to honor the memory of his father, Dr. Theodore Atlas, a Staten Island physician who for 55 years provided medical services to his community. His spirit of giving is embodied in the Foundation that bears his name.

“For 55 years, right up until the day he retired, my father took care of anyone who came into his office, he did house calls, he visited nursing homes, things that many other doctors didn't want to do,” said Atlas. “I remember on some Christmas Eves that he would be in the office until late at night because he refused to shut the door to people in need. The spirit of the Foundation is not so much that he's my father, but because I was his son I was able to witness all the great things this man did for the less fortunate. Someone who lived their life this way should be remembered.”

The Foundation comes to the aid of people in a variety of difficult situations, people who have nowhere else to turn for help, people who would otherwise fall between the cracks. And it does so in a very direct and very real way. Once the Foundation identifies a person or family in need, it immediately moves to help, and avoids any bureaucratic obstacles which might damage the recipient’s pride.

“People in these situations have lost a lot, they shouldn't also lose their dignity,” said Atlas. “They are in position to have to look for help, why should they lose anything more?”

In addition to helping thousands of individuals and families in their times of need, the Foundation has engaged in larger endeavors such as creating incentive programs in schools to encourage and motivate students, creating a food pantry on Staten Island to insure that children do not go to bed hungry, and distributing turkeys at Thanksgiving and toys at Christmas to families that don’t have the financial resources to properly celebrate the holidays. This past holiday season, the Foundation distributed over 8,000 toys to the less fortunate.

There is so much more work to be done, and the Foundation remains committed to the mission of bringing help to people in their time of need, no matter how great or small the call.


If you wish to make a donation, become a volunteer/sponsor or learn more about the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation, please call 718-980-7037 or e-mail or visit the Dr. Theodore A. Atlas Foundation website


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