Why we teach boxing to kids
So perhaps you’re concerned…
One of the biggest questions I get is regarding why we teach boxing to at-risk youth. Aren’t we just “teaching them how to fight?”
Most folks think of boxing as a brutal, violent and angry sport. While I can’t deny that boxing can be that, that’s not at all what we teach or model, and it never will be. So, here and now, I will address this “elephant in the room” and hopefully clear up why we do this crazy sport also known as “The Sweet Science” here at The Good Fight Community Center.
Hello, my name is Nathaniel Coleman, Jr. and I’m the Founder and Executive Director of The Good Fight Community Center.
Among many other things here at the community center, we teach the sport of boxing. Our logo even has boxing gloves in it. The boxing gloves form a heart…and the meaning behind it is that we provide “tough love”. We also have “fight” in our name. So what is the reason why we teach boxing, really?
I remember doing a morning show interview a few years back with a local D.J. who thought he was being funny by repeatedly saying “So you guys just have the kids pummel each other!”… and every time I corrected him he would just laugh and go back to the punchline. I got several negative calls after that show. He didn’t get what it is that we really do, so I hope he will read this blog.
What our boxing approach is… and isn’t
I often have caregivers say “I want my student to learn boxing because they are being bullied.” [Sidenote: boxing doesn’t stop bullying.] The effects of learning boxing the right way can stop bullying…without throwing a single punch. Or parents might say “I want my student to learn self-defense, so I’m sending them to learn boxing.” [Sidenote no. 2: boxing isn’t a self-defense class either]
So why do we choose boxing as the sport to teach? In a single word: “Character”. Boxing is like life. In life you will get “punched”. You may lose a job, lose a loved one, lose a relationship. We even describe such experiences as feeling “like a gut punch”. It’s not so much about whether these things will happen in your life- they will- it’s about your response to those things. It’s about your character.
The famous boxer, Mike Tyson, talked of having to go to the hospital after his daughter had been tragically killed in an accident. He was hurting and angry and wanted to yell and scream and break things, but then he looked around him and saw other grieving parents handling their loss with character. He made the decision to do the same. He later found himself comforting other parents in their grief. That is inner strength. The character to stand tall even when it’s hard.
Boxing training is tough. Boxers are some of the best conditioned athletes on the planet. Just try a boxing workout. The cardio, the strength conditioning, the mental toughness, the push-ups, the sit-ups – all of it. You must mentally make a decision to push through the pain. Boxers must endure, and people who succeed in life must, and do, endure. We teach boxing as a life lesson. Boxers train to be champions. Champions have character. They go the distance. They push beyond pain, circumstance, whatever…to find a way to win.
This is the mental reason why we teach boxing. We often find that kids who train in boxing will find success in the classroom, in relationships, etc. They understand what it takes to reach a tough physical goal. Boxing here is taught as a team sport. As we train, we lift each other up. We challenge each other to do better. Soon one push up is three… then five… then twenty. We become physically and mentally strong.
Getting buff… and stuff
So what about the actual physical benefits of boxing training? Consider these reasons:
Boxing boosts cardiovascular health and fitness, which in turn reduces risks for cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.
This evidence comes from studies of cardio fitness, in general, but boxing workouts in particular. The bouts of high-intensity training followed by a rest period is particularly good for your heart. One study looked at overweight and obese participants and found that boxing workouts provided more benefits in less time, compared to moderate-intensity training. Other studies comparing moderate-intensity and boxing workouts found that blood pressure in particular responds better to high-intensity training.
Strength training is another major component of boxing fitness classes. Many classes do intervals of strength work, alternating with punching a bag and other technical moves. Even when boxing workouts do not include specific resistance moves, they boost full-body strength. This is because you need your entire body to box. Throwing a punch correctly involves the whole body and most muscle groups. You need your core to stabilize yourself, your lower body and hips to pivot and give power to the punch and, of course, the upper body to deliver the blow.
A boxing workout is not easy. It is an intense experience. No matter what your skill or fitness level is, a good boxing session should put you through the ringer and be very challenging. Many people inherently enjoy this, but it’s also good for your fitness because it builds stamina and improves endurance.
Boxing workouts are fast-paced and challenging. One hour-long session can burn 600+ calories, depending on your weight and effort level.
The agility component of boxing is great for balance, while punching improves hand-eye coordination. Even without core-specific movements during the strength-training portion of the workout, boxing builds these muscles. The moves needed to box build core strength, which in turn helps you balance better.
Boxing is fun, even for people who have no interest in contact sports. When the only thing being hit is a bag and there are minimal safety risks, anyone can do it and most enjoy it.
All of these physical benefits are enough to encourage most people to give boxing a try, but there’s actually even more reasons why we teach boxing. The intense nature of the workout, the physical and mental challenge, and the release of hitting something hard all contribute to the mental health benefits of boxing workouts which allow individuals to:
- Reduce stress and other negative emotions
- Find emotional release in a safe environment
- Lift a bad mood after a rough day
- Sleep better at night after an intense workout
- Gain self-confidence from meeting a challenge and getting stronger
Here at The Good Fight Community Center, all of our coaches are USA Boxing certified. We are also certified through the U.S. Center for Safe Sport. Our gym is registered through USA boxing. We provide hand protection, and head and body gear for students who choose to spar [side note: 65% of students who train boxing in our gym never spar in the ring].
We do our utmost to assure every student has a safe experience. That is the ultimate goal.
So, I hope this helps, and dispels any misconceptions that we are allowing
kids to violently pummel each other. In fact, as I hope you’ve been able to see, our focus is not actually on “fighting” at all- it is on education.
Also, consider this: We have been around now for nearly seven years.
There has not been a single incident where a kid was injured.
See for our kids box for yourself!
I would like to invite you, as we do all caregivers, to stop in and see for yourself what we do- and why we teach boxing. We train every weekday from 4pm until 5pm…sometimes longer. And we build champions. You can learn more on our website thegoodfight.club
Finally, this. Kids who box generally aren’t bullied. Not because they are tough, but because they are confident. They walk with their heads up. They are self-aware and believe that they can meet any challenge. That confidence exudes outward…and repels bullies. Remember: bullies look for victims. Confident kids don’t present that way and, as such, bullies by-pass them.
So here you see there is a method to the “madness”! Come join the fight. We would love to have you on our team. We are The Good Fight Community Center!