ENDING A CYCLE
The United States is comprised of 5% of the world’s population, but contains 25% of the world’s prisoners. 1 out of 4 people in the entire world are shackled here in the U.S. This trickles down on tax payers. Each U.S. resident pays $260 per year on corrections.
Most of our jail population hails from the inner-city. Almost 70% of the males in prison do not have a high school diploma. There is a large body of literature verifying that children of single mothers are more likely to commit crimes, than children who grow up with married parents. Young men and women who grow up in single parent households are placed at a gross disadvantage. These children have less guidance and rarely have a father figure in their home to hold them accountable.
This is why I believe boxing programs are so beneficial to the inner-city youth. Boxing gyms provide a family hierarchy that offers youth the structure and accountability they lack at home. Many boxers, me included, refer to their coaches as their father. These coaches volunteer their time because they were once in the same position.
Coaches hold their boxers accountable for punctuality and consistency in coming to the gym. These same coaches hold their boxers accountable for their grades. These young boxers understand that boxing is a privilege and continue to display personal accountability outside of the gym, because they will have to answer to their coach.
In our boxing gym, Turner Boxing Academy, an inexperienced boxer is taken under the wing of a more experienced boxer. Our coach, John Brown, has structured our gym similarly to the Big Brother/Big Sister programs. Each boxer is held accountable by a more experienced boxer. As the most experienced boxer, I am at the top of the chain, and I answer to the coach, John Brown.
Any young person looking for direction will benefit from not wanting to disappoint their mentor in the gym. Before they know it, they are mentoring for another boxer. This instills so much confidence into a young adult. The confidence and work ethic that boxing teaches, translates into every aspect of life.
It is hard to see how this structure plays out from the outside. I was a part of this structure for almost three years before I was aware that I was a part of it. I, like so many other lost young adults, was looking for a place to belong. To remain a part of it, I had to follow the rules, both inside and outside of the gym that my coach had put in place.
My coach would not know if I actually went running before practice. My coach would not know if I consumed junk food the night before. My coach would not know if I worked out on the days that the gym was closed. But he, I, my opponent, and the crowd will know on fight night. This taught me personal accountability. Boxing taught me the importance of investing in myself and working hard when no one is looking.
I have seen 100’s of lives transformed because of this program. Many of the boxers don’t fight. Many of them just want to be a part of the team and workout every evening. With boxing gyms closing down all around America, a lot of unguided youth will be left without the structure and activity to keep them busy. As we know, idle hands are tools for the devil.
Many amateur boxing coaches in America take their young boxers in as their own children, essentially becoming the second parent in the single-parent home. The structure of a boxing gym and the life guidance from coaches are invaluable to youth.
I urge you to point the misguided youth towards boxing gyms. It may change their life for the better, just like it changed mine. Amateur boxing gyms are usually free of cost, yet priceless in value.
I also urge anyone with free time and space in their heart to volunteer at their local boxing gyms; even if it’s to give boxers water or help with their gloves. Gyms need help. No experience necessary. Inner-city gyms are severely underfunded. It’s unbelievable that the government can’t find a little room in its budget for gyms, but can find the funds to pay $75,560 a year for the 130,000 prisoners housed in California.
I urge everyone to find out when the next local amateur boxing show is and pay the $5 entry fee and purchase snacks from the concession stands. This money goes directly back into the gyms to help purchase equipment and help fund travel for boxing matches. And, more important than money, the support these kids feel looking into a full gymnasium as they enter the ring to showcase their hard work, is priceless.
Find a gym near you here.
Let’s invest a little more into our youth that are, statistically, likely to be the 70% imprisoned. Inner-city boxing programs can help end the cycle of poverty in neighborhoods. It can keep kids on playgrounds and out of prisons; have them using gloves instead of guns. It can give them a fighting chance by being a fighter.
Keynote Speaker | Emcee | Comedian
Edited by Missy Fitzwater