Power of Sports | Community Spotlight - Downtown Boxing Gym

A Fighting Chance

In a city that has witnessed a historic economic decline, high rates of crime, and a withering educational system, how do members of the Detroit community find firm enough footing to turn things back around?

For “Motor City” native Khali Sweeney the answer is simple: Fight through it.

The Downtown Boxing Gym building in Detroit as seen on the television show Power of Sports

In an effort to give back to his community, Sweeney founded an after-school youth-development program called the Downtown Boxing Gym. The organization embraces children growing up in some of Detroit’s toughest neighborhoods. Through boxing, it gives them an environment where they can let go of their deepest frustrations.

Boxing teaches you discipline. It teaches you focus. It teaches you to block out the outside noises.

Although the program gives students an opportunity to fine-tune their footwork and jab combinations, the Downtown Boxing Gym is actually an educational platform.

Before the students can hit the canvas, they have to hit the books.

On top of boxing instruction, the organization provides free, tailored solutions for each student’s educational needs. The training regimen includes tutoring, homework assistance, test preparation, project completion, and literacy and math intervention.

A mural wall at the Downtown Boxing Gym in Detroit showing the program's educational component

The boxing aspect serves more like a daily dose of discipline, refining the students’ mental and physical fitness while providing a safe space to vent their feelings.

The program also makes it easier for students to say what they are doing after school. Instead of being teased or bullied for going to a tutor after school, they can say they’re hopping in the ring.

My whole life has changed. I got straight A’s. I’m starting to tone down all my anger problems. I take it all out on the bag.

Serving over 150 students, ages 8-18, from 30 different zip codes at a 100% graduation rate, it is a unanimous decision – pound-for-pound, Sweeney’s Downtown Boxing Gym is a true community champion.

To learn more about Downtown Boxing Gym, visit DowntownYouthBoxing.org.

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