When I was growing up in Cleveland in some of the poorest neighborhoods, I didn’t realize they were poverty-stricken because there was a sense of community. The neighborhood kids played together, and there was a nearby recreation center. At the recreation center, there was basketball, ping pong, board games, chess, and gymnastics. I used to love going there to play basketball, ping pong, and chess. The people who went were of all ages and backgrounds, and I thought that was just how the world was. The employees, in particular, were great role models, and I still remember teaching chess to one of them, a tall black man with a great sense of humor. As I showed him the moves, he began to win in the very first game, and he exclaimed, “Aw, I see what you’re doing. You’re letting me win to teach me!” And I sheepishly said, “Uh huh, that’s exactly it.” Unfortunately, I forgot his name, but he was a regular employee there for three years, and he taught me how to shoot a basketball.
When I saw a documentary about a year and a half ago about a program called “Boxing out Negativity” from my most recent hometown, Chicago, it brought back memories of the recreation center in Cleveland. I didn’t contact them until I came back from Peru, and I then called them up to make a donation and offer my help. Rev. Robin Hood and Coach Derek Brown are some of the kindest and hard working people I know. I started a website, http://www.northlawndaleboxingleague.org , to help their media presence and formalize donation channels. We also keep a regularly updated Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/northlawndaleboxingleague/ . Since then, we’ve reached over 600 “likes.” Most recently, Windy City Live did a short segment on Boxing Out Negativity, and the website received a shout-out! http://abc7chicago.com/1092908/ It just goes to show that hard work and dedication, as in boxing, leads to success.