By Brett Ater, PR/Social Specialist at TITLE Boxing
Kansas City, Mo. - Terence Crawford, the current world champion and heir apparent to boxing’s throne, proudly represents his hometown of Omaha, Neb. He wears his city’s name on his trunks and he makes sure to wear a hat with the big Nebraska “N” both pre- and post-fight. Like Omaha, Kansas City isn’t seen as a boxing hotbed. There have certainly been big time fighters from the larger Midwestern cities, but the reality is that a fighter born, raised and fighting out of the middle of the map can find it tough to grab the same mass appeal as a fighter representing Philly, Brooklyn or East L.A.
“Bud” Crawford spits on the idea that you have to train/fight in Vegas, in New York City or Los Angeles to make a name in boxing. And his story can and should be one to follow for all kids, especially aspiring fighters, in other Midwestern cities, because he’s proof that you can have success when you work hard and stay on the right path, no matter where you’re from.
“He’s someone to look at for our kids here at the club. He’s from a similar background. He wasn’t handed anything, but he took advantage of the opportunities when he got them,” said Officer Shawnie Nix, who runs the Kansas City, Mo. Police Athletic League Boxing Club. “He shows that you have to be the one to put the effort in. You have to be the one to go to work.”
Crawford’s past troubles with street life and violence are well documented. The focus on boxing turned his life around. And the hope for Officer Nix and others who help run the KCMO Police Athletic League, located on the city’s eastern edge, is that boxing does the same for the neighborhood’s youth who attend daily to stay active and out of trouble.
“This is a boxing club, but it’s more than that. We look out for each other. We’re family,” said Nix. “Kids want to feel like someone is there. They want expectations, for someone to hold them accountable.”
The strong relationships formed between Officer Nix and the kids at the club are evident. They talk about school and weekend plans before workouts start, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work. The kids take Nix’s tips and implement them on demand when shadowboxing or hitting the bags. And for the kids to be able to attend the club and compete in local and regional tournaments, they have to keep grades up. In the short-term, Nix says the atmosphere they’ve built at the club has changed kids for the better. Girls and boys who first attended with poor attitudes and no motivation are becoming leaders.
“I’ve seen their attitudes about everything change,” Nix said. “They make school a priority, because they want to be here at the club. They’re more disciplined and they hold themselves responsible.”
The camaraderie offered at boxing clubs around the country may just be second to none for kids growing up in at-risk neighborhoods. It’s a support system that sticks with a young person for the rest of their lives. Officer Nix says her high school basketball coach acted as that support, and now she plays that role.
Crawford clearly never forgot those that helped him either. He put his life on the right track with boxing, and he’s used his success to help refugees in Uganda and Rwanda. He’s also started a non-profit boxing club in the neighborhood and city he so proudly represents in Omaha.
“Somewhere along the lines, there has to be a person to give a kid a chance and push them in the right direction,” Nix said. “And from there, it passes down from adult to kid, to the next generation, and it just carries on.”
(lead image via Naoki Fukuda / RingTV)