Boxing academy provides positive outlet

Each Tuesday at The Bridge Outreach, a La Croix Church building on South Frederick Street in Cape Girardeau, a group of young men meet for the Christian Boxing Academy.

The academy, part of the Salvation Army's after-school program, is now in its third year and available to students from fifth through 12th grades.

You might hear boxing and think it's only about giving kids an outlet to be physical and exercise, but its purpose is much greater.

"We get to learn a lot of respect and how to be there for one another. We don't give up on each other," said 17-year-old participant Anthony Miller.

There's a time for homework and tutoring inside the "open church, with its beautiful, yet cracked, purple stained-glass windows," as Southeast Missourian photo editor Laura Simon wrote.

That's followed by dinner -- Danny Rees, who runs the program, noted the generosity of area businesses that donate food -- with a group discussion and prayer group and then it's on to boxing.

"The physical aspect of boxing is a great catalyst to get respect from the physical side first, and then to earn respect based upon the love you show afterward," Rees said. "They are more gracious, they are more caring, yet they still like the physical aspect of doing it."

The boxing portion begins with a group stretch and run around town, then they warm up more with jumping jacks, burpees and pushups before partnering up and grabbing mouth guards and gloves to spar.

"It's just a great opportunity to have an outreach," said Kweku Arkorful, who has volunteered since the program's inception. "Get out to these guys that people have counted out or people have said that they don't have a chance. 'They can't do this. They can't do that.' And just putting so many stereotypes on. Giving them opportunity and hope for them to be something in this world. They have the opportunity to be great. The Christian Boxing Academy gives them that avenue."

We're grateful to Rees, Arkorful and other volunteers who give these children these opportunities, and are proud of the children who attend in hopes of bettering themselves and enjoying the camaraderie of the group.