Boxing Gloves Replace Gang Life for Some Teens
Posted August 17, 2006 9:30 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — It looked like a scene from a "Rocky" movie, with over 30 young people tearing it up in a sweltering hot gym. But the kids weren't looking for a title -- they're looking for a way out.
"It helped me get out of the gangs," said one former gang member. "It helped me get off the streets. It gave me something to do."
At Second Round, an after-school boxing program run by Wake County nonprofit Haven House, rival gang members check their colors at the door.
The teen that spoke to WRAL said he actually started his own gang. After several run-ins with the law and his parents, he said he decided to get out and start over. Second Round has now given him a second chance.
"Instead of me fighting on the streets, I come in here to release all of my anger," he said.
Boxing is a lot harder than it looks, but that's the way it's supposed to be, because the kids are learning a discipline.
"We give them an identity," said organizer Alan Muiera. "When they walk through those doors, they're boxers. They're not bangers, they're boxers."
Muriera was in a gang when he was a teen in California. Now, he's showing other teens there's another way to live.
"Gangs offer them opportunities, activities where they can succeed at something," he said. "So, we replace what the gangs are giving them with positive social activities through boxing, and boxing is really just the draw."
Once the kids are in the door, organizers help them in many ways, whether its getting out of a gang, staying in school, or if even for just a short time, staying off the streets.
"This is a safe place," said the teen.