MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Brian Hall is more than just a coach.
He’s a Memphis Police Officer who runs the MPD Boxing Gym alongside Officer Reginald Foster.
“We want to do great things to help and make this a better city,” he said.
The duo work with children threatened by gangs, drugs, and poverty, and who too often are raised in broken homes.
“I see the gangs in my school, in my neighborhood, in my family. It’s there,” said Alfredo Vieyre.
But these young people have found a safe haven and an escape.
“A lot of people don’t understand they’re less likely to want to fight or be violent in the street,” said Foster.
“We used to go to school. We used to fight a lot,” admitted Havalache Sykes. “People used to pick on my brother. They used to pick on us. We had to stand back to back just to protect each other a lot.”
But in the ring with their coaches, they learn skills like self discipline, self responsibility and hard work.
They are tools helping them succeed in life.
“Previously they were in a lot of trouble, they’re not in trouble anymore,”said Coach Foster.
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While there are no concrete number of statistics, there are plenty of success stories.
Deangelo Leachman came through the MPD Boxing Gym as a teenager, and recently became the Detroit Golden Gloves Champion.
He’s now training to compete for the national title.
At the gym, the children have role models like Leachman to look up to.
They come from their neighborhoods and went to their schools, and are now giving back and paying it forward.
“The fact that we was able to give so much and now they’re able to give back to others, it shows what kind of impact we had on them,” said Hall
It’s an impact these kids will need, because they not only have dreams of becoming pro boxers, they’re also reaching for the stars.
“It feels good to know that you’re doing something to try to keep them out of jail and keep them on the right track,” said Foster.
And even though there’s still a lot of work to do with saving our youth, everyone here see this as a state to knocking out the problem.
WREG was told the number of kids participating in this program this year has doubled.
The MPD Boxing Gym is free for children ages 8 to 17.