RIO GRANDE - The name of Josh Mercado’s No Limits Boxing Academy captures the facility’s message about perseverance in the face of challenges. But “no limits” also describes Mercado’s commitment to uplifting the kids of Cape May County.
Middle Township will honor Mercado’s community involvement and dedication to youth with a Middle Matters Civic Recognition Award on March 20.
Mercado, a former professional boxer who opened No Limits Academy in 2020 to help kids “be their best selves,” said the acknowledgement is validating.
“I have an incredible team of coaches and supporters, and receiving this award motivates us to keep working hard,” he said. “We want to empower kids. We know that investing in our children is investing in our future.”
Mercado understands how much boxing and adult guidance can benefit kids – especially those who could use some extra support.
“I grew up without a father and that made some gaps in my life, but boxing filled those gaps,” he said. “So now I’m using the gift of boxing God gave me to help children learn to be the best they can be. No Limits Academy is a safe space where they can be themselves. It also challenges them physically, mentally, and emotionally.”
Before opening New Limits, which he describes as a boxing and youth development facility, Mercado taught psychology and sociology classes at Cape May County Technical School. He brings this knowledge along with his love of boxing to reach the kids who attend the academy.
Although boxing classes begin at 5:15 p.m., Mercado said many children arrive around 3 p.m. to do homework, play sports and spend time with their peers and mentors. After boxing, the kids will stay until closing time, helping clean the facility or talking with one of the faith leaders or therapists on site.
Some nights, around 120 children are learning important life skills at No Limits Academy, which is a cellphone-free zone.
“We work with guidance counselors, local therapists, and law enforcement to give our kids the best support we can,” said Mercado. “We are bringing the village back.”
In fact, Mercado has been working with Middle Township Police Chief Chris Leusner and Sgt. Ronald Miller, as well as Cape May Police Chief Dekon Fashaw to initiate the Future Guardians program. The program aims to foster a relationship between Cape May County youth and police through activities such as fishing, “cops and hoopers” basketball games, chat sessions, and more. For now, kids and police can train side-by-side at the academy through the Gym Buddies program.
“What Josh has done in this community is a prime example of what we want here in Middle Township, good people coming together to do good work,” said Committeeman Jim Norris, who nominated Mercado for the award. “The positive impact he’s made in the lives of these students will be felt for many years. I am proud of Josh’s accomplishments in building and growing No Limits Academy here in Middle Township, and look forward to seeing even more success from him in the future!”
No Limits Academy is at 1086 NJ-47, Rio Grande. For more information, visit www.nolimitsboxingacademy.org