Time spent in gym, not on streets, help shape young boxers

CHICAGO -- Some of Chicago’s smallest boxers showed off their hard work and fantastic skills at Daley Plaza today.

They prove it takes big courage and dedication to be successful in the park district’s boxing program.

There are 21 boxing centers across the city.  The centers are open to any kids 8 and older.

The Chicago Park District has produced some famous names the likes of Olympian Michael Bennett and David Diaz and former champion Montell Griffin.

And of course, Mohammed Ali.

Gerald Scott is a coach in Ada Park and a 40 year veteran of the sport.  He got involved to get kids off the street and better his neighborhood.

“They want to be there,” he says.  “And it’s getting them away from where they’re living and out of that violence.  They are spending the time in the gym instead of on the streets.”

“It’ll help them build character, keep them from being a bully at school and protect themselves if they are bullied.  And it is just steering them in the right direction make them a better person in life,” Scott says.

15-year-old Rayquan Keel just started about nine months ago and has fallen in love with boxing, not just for what he’s learning, but how he’s changing physically.

“To me, it’s a workout,” he says. “I love being fit.  And showing off in front of everybody, that’s even better.”

Building confidence, staying physically fit, eating healthy and conflict resolution are all huge benefits of boxing, organizers say.

Alliya Johnson was just 6 the first time she stepped into the Taylor Park gym.   At 9, her coaches struggle to find someone her size at her skill level.

They say they teach to succeed in the ring and in life.