CHICAGO (CBS) — Life has not always been kind to him, but he uses that as a means to help kids face challenges.
Boxing coach George Hernandez is someone you should know, CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield reports.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Cooler Trend Next Week After Quiet Weekend
The distinctive golden dome of the Garfield Park Conservatory towers majestically over that West Side Chicago neighborhood as a beacon of hope — not for its architecture, but for what’s inside. There, young men from the troubled community train to box their way to a better life.
For 40 years, Hernandez has been coaching them.
“Well, they keep me young in the sense that these are like my children and you go home sometimes and you think about some things they have said over the course of a day,” he says.
As a kid, he and his brothers were taken by their father to a police station on Addison, where he told a desk sergeant he didn’t want them anymore. From then on until he joined the Army, he was a ward of the state.
Before working for the Park District, he got a degree in criminal justice from Loyola.READ MORE: Protesters Hold 'Healing Circle' At Site Where Adam Toledo Was Shot And Killed By Police; 'Our Presence Is A Form Of Resistance'
“I remember the hurt that I suffered and not having a parent,” he says.
Hernandez says he sees his role today as making life easier for his boxers and “to take some of that pain away from them and listen to their problems.”
Over the years, Hernandez has trained thousands of professional and amateur boxers and at least 30 are classified as world champions.
Twenty-year-old Ed Brown’s mom was killed in the E2 nightclub tragedy.
“I’ve been with him for like 15 years,” Brown says. “He’s gonna keep it 100 (percent) with you, he isn’t going to lie.”
Two police officers also workout with Hernandez.MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?
“What he’s doing is very proactive,” Howard Ray says. “To cease crime he brings in a lot of guys and they come in and box. The time that they spend here is time that they can’t find crime on the street and can’t engage in crime.”