Why Single Mothers Should Have Their Children in Boxing Programs
A successful boxer must learn to control their emotions. The more experienced a boxer is, the more emotional control they display. This concept is evident at weigh-ins on the first day of a tournament. The returning champions can usually be found joking around and being friendly. The newer, less accomplished boxer can be seen walking around with their chest puffed out, while at the same time mean-mugging everyone they think may be in their weight class.
Boxing rids a person of insecurities and boosts confidence. With this, comes the ability for one to take risks, step out of the comfort zone and become vulnerable. This ability transfers from the ring to every day life.
Boxing also demands personal accountability. There is only so much a boxer can accomplish in the 4 or 5 workouts a week they have with their coach. It is imperative that a boxer become self-motivated. They must have the ability to ignore both the frigid and the searing temperatures, soreness, and the fact that it is barely dawn in order to get their road work in.
My coach, John Brown, is one of my favorite human beings. When I moved to Kansas City to box for him, he had one condition. He would train me at no cost and allow me to live in his home for a year, rent free, but I had to agree to his one condition. I would be expected to pick up 3 or 4 boxers once a week and take them to an arcade or some other recreational, interactive activity that didn’t involve boxing. I thought it was an odd request, but I readily agreed. He assured me that he would pay for all of it, but with his busy schedule he couldn’t do it himself.
I didn’t realize until many years later, what I had become a part of. What he had created was a subtle hierarchy in the gym that no one was aware that they were a part of. I’m at the top of the hierarchy, the only person above me is John Brown himself. I would have to answer to John. There were a group of younger boxers that would answer directly to me. Marcus Davidson was one of the kids I was responsible for picking up on the weekends.
At the time, Marcus was not as focused in the gym as he should’ve been. It was unspokenly established that if he wasn’t in great shape, fell short academically, had a bad attitude, or any number of other issues that he would have to deal with me. I would have a conversation with Marcus to find out what was going on and how the problem could be fixed. It was not disciplinary in nature, it was teaching him accountability.
I didn’t realize it, but as Marcus got older, he had younger boxers that had to answer to him. Part of his lessons in accountability had taught him to become a mentor to those walking in his footsteps. If Marcus hadn’t naturally become a good mentor, I would be disappointed. And if I didn’t hold him accountable for that, John Brown would hold me accountable.
Recently, I have been slowly removing myself from boxing to focus more on public speaking. I have no fears for the gym as I step away because Marcus has acquired my role as the leader of the gym, second only to John.
Side note: John Brown lives at the bottom of a hill. When it snows, I would take it upon myself to shovel his driveway, just as a son should do for his father. One winter morning, I arrived at John’s house to see that it had already been shoveled. Marcus had done it without anyone asking him. I have known Marcus for most of his life, I consider him my brother and I couldn’t be prouder of him.
“Bad” kids are my favorite kids. I don’t believe children are bad; I believe they are misguided. I believe that boxing is the best tool to realign the path of misguided youth into the right direction. When a teen is constantly fighting in school, has failing grades, and becomes a trouble maker, they are often sent to boxing gyms. This should be a much more frequent occurrence.
Boxing gyms can initially be a very intimidating environment. When a troubled teen first arrives to a boxing gym, they puff up their chest and try to portray themselves as the toughest kid in the gym. This is easy to see through. They will usually say something like, “I been in a bunch of street fights, I’m a real fighter.”
It’s at this point that we put him in the ring with the smallest, goofiest looking kid in the gym. The goofy kid knows to cover up for 30 seconds as the misguided youth wails and flails away at him. Once he’s exhausted, he is out-jabbed by someone half his size. This immediately humbles the young, misguided youth. A more experienced boxer will eventually pull him aside and talk to him.
Boxing gyms are usually located in low-income areas. Single mother households are very common in these areas. The head coach of a gym is the only strong father figure to most of these boxers. Boxers answer to their coach as they would a father. The lack of a father figure or family structure is a major reason why misguided youths are often on the wrong path.
The boxers in a gym train together, run together, and punch each other quite often. Boxers bond as siblings. We may punch each other, and sometimes even dislike each other, but at the end of the day, we defend each other, support each other and have each others back just as any conventional family does.
Once that troubled kid becomes indoctrinated into the system, they feel as if they’ve found a home, even if they already have a home. As a boxer, the other boxers become your family.
Accountability in a misguided youth becomes vitally important to them as they realize that less experienced, younger boxers are modeling them. The misguided youth begin to realize that if they fall short of their own accountability, they will disappoint the young boxers who look up to them.
And just like that, they become an integral component of the boxing hierarchy.
Thank you for taking the time to read my piece. I will be embarking on a speaking tour where I visit schools to discuss the valuable lessons boxing has taught me at school-wide assemblies. I speak on self-respect, bullying (with a strong emphasis on cyber-bullying), goal-setting and the resilience necessary to achieve said goals, and the potential long term effect of a digital footprint in regards to future teams, schools, and employers. I believe students fail to realize the power of social media. I teach students how to utilize social media and technology as a learning tool, not distraction.
If you would like to discuss the possibility of having me visit your high school, middle school, youth program, etc. You can reach me at Booking@CelebritySportsSpeaker.com
To find an official USA Boxing Club near you, visit FIND A CLUB
Cam F Awesome
Edited by the amazing Missy Fitzwater