Anti-bullying boxing program aims to give kids self-esteem boost

August 22, 2017 03:53 PM

TROY -- While a group of about 20 kids at the Unity House on 6th avenue in Troy learns how to box, they are also training for life.

“My stance and my punches and head control,” said Jah'Mez Mayo.

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Mayo is part of the Speak Out anti-bullying boxing program.

He knows what it is like to be bullied.

“If you're being picked on you don't feel like you know you really belong in a place,” Mayo said.

“Why would someone have to get bullied every day and they're just an innocent kid just going about they are business,” said Kevin Pryor.

Kids and teens ages eight to 17-years-old and even some adults go to the facility to train three days a week.

Volunteers like retired professional boxer Sam Lee Young Jr. teach them self-defense, discipline and how to stand up to bullies.

“If I get bullied I can stand up for myself and if other people get bullied I can help them out,” said Ka'mirah Pettaway.

While the kids are training at the Unity House, they are staying out of trouble.

“See there's a lot of things going on around here now,” Young said. “I just wanted you know get some of these kids off the streets because there's nothing out there but trouble and death.”

“If we were not doing this program no telling what gang activity they might be involved in,” Pryor said.

Pryor said the kids are learning how to do more than throw a mean left hook and jab.

“It. builds your self-esteem,” Pryor said. “It builds your confidence. If you have confidence, you don't have to worry anymore. You don't have to cross the street no more. You can walk straight.”

Pryor started the program two and a half months ago after realizing how boxing helped his 24-year-old son, Sajae.

Sajae has been boxing since he was eight-years-old.

“This taught me a lot of discipline,” Sajae said. “So I wasn't a...even though I could fight. I wasn't a troublemaker. And believe it or not, since I learned how to box. I haven't got into any fights in the street.”

That is the kind of discipline volunteers in the program are trying to teach the kids.

“Fighting is uncontrollable,” Pryor said. “Boxing you have control because you have structure.” 


Nia Hamm

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