Written by Glen Beck
A proud to be American, Dominicano, or as he put it, “I claim the Dominican Republic made with American parts. Alex, is a man whose family arrived in the country in 1976 and grew up in Harlem on 108th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam in NYC. A proud family man with a loving nature and hard outer crust developed over time out of pure necessity. While raised in Harlem, Alex said, "it was more Spanish Harlem than not because of who lived there." He lived just a few blocks from Central Park, and many today would be thinking, "Wow, what a great place to live!" Perhaps now it is, but when he was coming up, it was a fight, or you got robbed daily place to live. It was an 'if you don't live here, don't come here' type of neighborhood because there were real consequences to showing up where you didn't belong.
The Taekwondo master explained that the new country was different from what they knew, and they had to learn it all quickly because the neighborhood was unforgiving. He went on to tell us that "Not speaking English started more than half of the problems I had endured. "My brothers and I would get teased all the time, and the only bad word we knew was (you); they'd say "Yo mama!" and we'd say "you." We were fighting all of the time, and if you didn't know how to fight back, you'd face getting 'snapped on' till you cried." Continuing, he said, "he was constantly bullied, and the crying started as much trouble for himself and his brothers as the snaps did because someone would laugh and they'd end up fighting even more. Although he always fought, it got worse because he would cry, but not out of fear. Once he got started, he didn't know when or how to stop and cried with frustration. It was hard to get out of the circle of events."
Alex told us that his love of martial arts began in 1984. First, he and his brothers watched Kung-fu cinema; they'd head outside and jump off the fire hydrants and building steps, trying to fly through the air. Or, they'd go to Sand Park on 112th street and pretend to be the Five Deadly Venoms. Then, his oldest brother, Rafael, would take them to Cathedral Parkway, where he pretended to be a Kung Fu master.
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