Any Body Can President Billy Moore, 62, works with 5-year-old Xavier Allen during a session at the nonprofit organization’s gym in the Southeastern San Diego neighborhood of Stockton. — John R. McCutchen

SAN DIEGO — Billy Moore’s attempts to carry on his famous father’s work helping impoverished San Diego youths has gone through many fits and starts over the years.

Moore, the 62-year-old son of late boxing champion Archie Moore, has struggled to get his Any Body Can nonprofit on firm footing. But the organization, which has operated on and off for decades under different names and at different locations, appears like it finally has the support and infrastructure to make it, and possibly expand, in the long term.

Over the past year, Moore and his new partner, Dr. Bob Murad, have raised $400,000, assembled a 15-member board of directors and added a library and education component to what, for years, was exclusively a boxing gym. The organization’s new focus includes building relationships with local schools to provide an outlet for children who want to avoid gangs.

“The goal is to teach youngsters how to step off in life with their best foot forward, without cowardice but with courage and dignity,” Moore said. “People don’t realize it, but this gang stuff is big business. If kids don’t have the courage and the dignity to stand up, then people will recruit them.”

Any Body Can was started by Archie Moore under the moniker Any Boy Can more than four decades ago. Billy Moore took over in the 1990s, once running the program out of his backyard. It currently operates out of a 1,300-square-foot facility at 3131 Market St. in the southeastern San Diego neighborhood of Stockton.

There are about 50 kids between the ages of 7 and 17 who regularly participate in the program, Moore said.

A year ago, things weren’t going so well.

Moore was working odd construction jobs during the day just to pay the facility’s rent, and he was barely keeping the organization going in his free time, Murad said. But everything changed when Moore teamed with Murad, who practices internal medicine at Scripps Clinic.

The pair successfully solicited a six-figure donation from car dealer Lou Grubb to fix up the Market Street gym and turn it into a “model home.” Murad’s wife Amy, a teacher, came on to build an educational component. She is now in charge of the new learning center.

In the meantime, Murad has recruited the financial assistance and know-how of several of his patients, and the organization now has $200,000 in the bank, he said. A second location is planned for the Riverside County city of Hemet, based on the conceptual model built over the past 12 months.

“We have a very good plan,” Murad said. “We know where we’re going.”

And momentum is building. Designs are in place to relocate into a bigger facility by January, and the nonprofit will unveil a refined after-school program with more adult mentors, Murad said.

Moore and Murad also said they have been encouraged to apply for federal money through the Community Development Block Grant program, a potential game-changer should they succeed.

City officials are beginning to notice their work.

Councilman David Alvarez was among those who attended a recent open house at the Market Street facility to witness a demonstration of Moore’s brand of discipline.

“There are not enough good things in this community, and this is one of them,” Alvarez told a packed house of parents, kids and staff members on Oct. 27. “The media and general public, they only tell the bad stories. They don’t tell the good stories, and we have a good story here today.”

Source (Written by Nathan Max, San Diego Union-Tribune, November 3, 2011).