Youth boxing groups using sports as an opportunity to grow

NOW: Youth boxing groups using sports as an opportunity to grow

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- Over 100 children and teenagers from Chicago and South Bend, who share a passion for boxing, came together at Notre Dame on Saturday for the first time.

Notre Dame’s Bengal Bouts and the Play like a Champion organization hosted the four boxing clubs.

Organizers said it is the first opportunity to bring these clubs together who all share the same philosophy that sports is the way to get to children.

“Boxing does so many things for so many people,” Nate Walker said, Program Director of Boxing and Head Coach at Notre Dame. “To see a different path, do something different, get out of a bad situation and use boxing as that vehicle to get into something good.”

The four boxing clubs, The Bloc (Chicago), Boxing Out Negativity (Chicago), Chicago Youth Boxing League (Chicago) and the South Bend Police Athletic League, use the sport as an opportunity to grow for the children and teens.

“I never thought that I would be boxing and I never thought that I would have such a good family in the boxing community,” Angelica Heredia said, participant of South Bend Police Athletic League. “Everybody just makes me feel so comfortable”

Each club focuses on reaching as many children and teens as possible, attracting them to boxing as a way to personally develop.

“Not only getting kids off the street, but getting them into something that can build them as human beings,” Jamyle Cannon said, Executive Director of the Bloc. “We’re supporting them academically; we’re supporting them socially and now we get to get together and show them we’re all doing this for the same reason.”

The program is offered to children and teens for little to no cost at all so that no child is turned away.

It is not all about boxing—one mother said it has opened doors for her daughter to join other programs as well.

“It’s opening up our community to different communities and now they’re going to be able to bridge and have some type of link that is community based,” Ebony Ewing said, who is the mother of a participant in the program.

Each boxing club also offers a tutoring program for all students to help them grow both physically and academically.

Jamyle Cannon said that the students have all of the intelligence and potential, the boxing club is just giving the students a place for the potential to come out.

“We’ve had a 100% high school graduation rate and college acceptance rate since 2016,” said Cannon. “Our kids end every school year with a 3.2 GPA, so we’re working really hard to bring kids in with the sport of boxing. Kids who wouldn’t typically walk into a mentoring and tutoring program, and once they have the boxing then we can push them in other areas of their lives.”

All of the participants received tickets to attend the 90th annual Bengal Bouts tournament, where the Notre Dame men’s boxing club face one another, at the Joyce Center on Saturday evening.

For more information on the South Bend Police Athletic League, click here.

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