A new after school boxing program at Mendez Middle School in Dove Springs is teaching kids a new sport, while also providing structure and keeping them off the streets.
The program was started with the help of the Police Athletic League and the after school program, ACE. Organizers say they brought in boxing at the request of students, and now, about a dozen students practice every day after school.
In a neighborhood where curfews and juvenile petty theft are issues, the program gives the kids structure and something to do after classes. It also allows professional boxer and Dove Springs resident, Casey Ramos, to pass on the skill to young kids while he gets his college degree.
“Confidence building, that’s the main thing we're trying to do," Ramos says. "Keep them around, give them something to do. Then maybe we’ll find a champion, maybe we’ll find one somewhere in there, but until then we’ll just keep working on the kids, not give up on them."
Ramos became a professional boxer at 17, traveling across Texas and as far away as Las Vegas. He plans to continue his professional boxing career someday, but now he says he's focused on helping out neighborhood kids.
Depending on available funding, Ramos hopes to sign up some of the kids as amateur boxers so they can begin to fight next year.
Listen to the broadcast version of this story in the audio player at the top of this post. This story is part of a year-long series on Dove Springs called "Turning the Corner."