In a sports world that is dominated by MMA when it comes to physical contact sports, boxing is not anywhere near as front and center as it once was. However, there is still a large panel of people who know what boxing really is and what it's really about and what happens in the ring....it's more about discipline, strategy and mental ability than it is just a brawl. Boxing is a time honored art that combines strength, style and the ability to read what's coming before it happens and make sure you are ready for the challenge. Those who practice this learn in no short order that they are learning life skills more than they are how to fight, and we've seen over and over again, how getting in the ring leads to much healthier and stable lives of young people who might have otherwise made different life choices.
In Muskegon this year, we have the chance to support some of those young people. We have 4 Golden Gloves Champions coming out of one very humble and dedicated place that has helped shape their lives physically and mentally and kept them away from some of the dangers that young people face. Tucked away in Smith-Reyerson Park is the Muskegon Boxing Club. With MBC standing for Mind Body and Character. By choice, it's a very small gym. They have worked very hard to maintain their low key approach to their sport and the young people they work with because they don't want the "glitz and glamor" that can be such a distraction to their true mission. Honestly, in all my time here, I felt kind of dumb that I had never been to the club, or the beautiful park it's in. Even to those of us who've been here a while, Muskegon still offers a surprise if you look and generally with that surprise comes a story that can't wait to be told about people who quietly do their part to better the lives of those they can. I am very fortunate in my work.
With our champions, normally there would be some help from Golden Gloves to get them to Tulsa this year for the finals, but like anyone, COVID did it's number on the organization and finding their way there has become a project in any community who's lucky enough to boast some champs. As things have tightened too, the 501c3 status of the club has lapsed and that makes it very difficult to find donors to help because they can't use the donation as a deduction at the end of the year. The club has been kept going from the generosity of those who believe and thankfully the City provides the space for the gym. The feeling there is like walking on to the set of a Rocky movie. It's awesome.
We sat down with Tony Stone, a long time acquaintance of mine Eddie Tice who's gone from fighter to trainer and mentor now and one of the champs, Nico Williams who's the 138 pound champ. Nico had spent the day working in his family's business of tree removal and right on time, 4:30p he showed up to do his daily grind to be "that champion" we can all get behind. It's a very candid conversation about the origins of the club with Kenny Lane, what effect it's had on Nico's life and the simple need of all of us coming up with only $5000 bucks together to make this happen for these guys. Take a listen.
They have put in the time, effort and dedication to make it. These guys have chosen a life of discipline over recklessness and the level of mentorship and care being spread through this most unsuspecting place...will help build the leaders of our community. As referenced in the story, learning how to box gives you the power and the strength to know you don't necessarily need to use your skills to manage a situation. Way more important than what you learn on the streets. Think what $5 or $10 can do from all of us? Let's keep on celebrating success and showing our young people that their investment pays off and that making the right decision should be rewarded.