Between his job at Ritchey Metals and helping his wife, Jennifer, raise two young children, Troy Moore is a busy man – but not too busy to spend hours in the boxing ring every week.

It’s not his own jabs and hooks he’s working on, though. Moore is coaching Washington-area kids to take their frustrations out in the gym.

“I help train fighters and make them better young women and young men,” said Moore, 50. “I don’t want them to take the same path I did.”

Moore, who boxed at the Brownson House as a youth and became addicted to drugs and incarcerated as an adult, is back where he got his start.

For turning his life around and dedicating his efforts to area youth, Moore has been selected as the Observer-Reporter’s ExtraORdinary Person for the month of November. The ExtraORdinary People series recognizes area residents who make positive contributions to the community.

On a recent Monday night, in the basement of the stately structure at 1415 Jefferson Avenue, boxers ranging in age 8 to 50 could be found sweating, jabbing and sparring to the soundtrack of rap and a three-minute buzzer. The youngest of the bunch, Thaddeus, in a Pokémon shirt and green boxing gloves, went toe-to-toe with Moore.

“Get your hands up,” Moore called to his partner.

Thaddeus elevated his hands, not backing down from his bulkier opponent.

Thaddeus’ mother, Alice Aycoth, sat nearby watching as daughter Calliope loped around the gym, occasionally asking a boxer to stop his action to allow her to pass.

“Troy and this gym have made Washington home for us,” said Aycoth, who moved to the area from West Virginia for a job in information technology. “Troy’s a coach, but there’s also that big brother element.”

Aycoth contacted the Brownson House when the little family first arrived in town, looking for an outlet for Thaddeus.

“He was acting out. He was angry,” she said. “We started coming four days a week. Troy took an immediate interest in him. His teachers tell me he’s a different kid. There have been no temper tantrums. If he gets mad, he saves it for the gym and he leaves it at the gym.”

The connection between teacher and student has extended to their families. Aycoth and both of her children have trained with Moore at his home gym.

“He was very up-front with me,” Aycoth said of Moore. “He has a great story. To come out of that, to make sure no one walks that path, it’s so admirable.”

Moore has been frank about his past since being released from prison in May 2016 for robbery and theft. He said that it was while he was incarcerated that he began to take responsibility for his actions. Every opportunity that was presented to him, he took, earning certifications in hospice care, forklift operating and automotive technology.

When he got out, he continued to be proactive, getting a job at D&M Painting in Amity, attending Bible studies and Narcotics Anonymous meetings and training young boxers. Now working in production at Ritchey Metals, Moore continues his outreach efforts. His old Brownson House Boxing Club sparring partner, Steve “Skeets” Levandosky, welcomed him back to the club.

“‘We’ve gone almost 500 rounds. Troy was a tough kid back in the day,” said Levandosky. “It’s great to have him come back. He was in a down spot in his life. I told him to come back and volunteer. The kids really love him.”

Moore’s wife, who nominated him for the ExtraORdinary People award, said Moore’s dedication to his students is only surpassed by his love for his family.

“It frustrates me when he’s not home, but I understand why he does it, so I don’t mind. He wants to help the youth in Washington, and he does help a lot of them. I’m proud of him,” said Jennifer. “He’s an extraordinary dad. He would do anything for his family, or for anyone. He’ll help anyone.”

Troy and Jennifer Moore are living a life of sobriety together. Every week, they do something for others, whether it’s buying the next person in line a sandwich or paying for someone’s gas. It’s their way of showing gratitude to the people who have supported them.

“No matter who pulls for us, we’ve got to stay focused. It’s all about staying clean,” said Moore. “If you stay clean, everything will fall into place as it should.”

While his wife and children are his foundation now – “I have Kaidyn, he’s my world. Then I’ve got Raelynn, my little world. And Jen, I can’t give her enough credit,” said Moore – the Brownson House boxing coaches were there for him when he was a capricious 13-year-old.

“They gave me a summer job, let me shoot pool, play basketball. If I did something wrong, they’d kick me out,” he said. “Now, I have kids who say, ‘Mom, I need some Troy time.’ That makes me feel good. When I walk in and see their smiles, we have a handshake ... it’s awesome to me.”

Moore said he wants the kids who are exposed to drugs, guns and violence to break the cycle.

“They’ve got to learn to work hard. I want to reach the youth before they become drug addicts or dealers,” he said. “(Boxing) gives them discipline, self-confidence and self-esteem. It teaches them how to take direction. You know, a lot of kids don’t like to take advice. To be a boxer, or any athlete, you have a coach who leads by example. I try to do that every day.”

Moore’s goal is to own his own place, with a gym, where kids can come at no cost for training, or guidance from an adult who has been there.

“They don’t have to be boxers. They don’t have to be world champions or great athletes,” Moore said. “I want them to come to me, to come to my wife, and have a place to talk.”

He and Jennifer may not have the building yet, but they have the name: Guns Down, Gloves Up.

“I’m a proven fact that you can get out of prison and do the right thing,” said Moore.

As part of the ExtraORdinary People Award, Troy Moore has been awarded $500 to give to charity of his choice, underwritten by the Observer-Reporter and Range Resources. Moore has chosen the Olivia Scott Foundation, which provides assistance to youth in life-threatening or changing situations.

Pupil

Celeste Van Kirk/Observer-Reporter

Thaddeus, 8, of Washington, works out with Moore at Brownson House Boxing Club. Alice Aycoth, Thaddeus’ mother, said her son looks up to Moore. “If he’s angry and frustrated and doesn’t want to talk to me, he’ll talk to Troy,” she said.

Community Editor

Natalie Reid Miller is Community Editor and has worked at the Observer-Reporter since 2013. With fellow Observer-Reporter journalists, she won the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania’s Ray Sprigle Memorial Award for the “Under the Label” social series.

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