Boxers in the ring at Daley Plaza. (Credit: Lisa Fielding

Boxers take the ring in Daley Plaza. (Credit: Lisa Fielding

CHICAGO (CBS) — Put up your dukes! Commuters in downtown Chicago enjoyed a few rounds center ring at Daley Plaza today.

“Look at all these people here, this is excellent for them to show their skills, this is what they train for,” said Thomas Hayes, Event Coordinator, Chicago Park District.

The Chicago Park District Young Boxing Showcase featured boys ages 8-17 years old.

Hayes says the program has been around for decades but every once in awhile they like to bring it out to the public.

“A lot of people don’t know that the Park District has boxing. That’s why we are here. We want more recognition.”

Chicago boys can sign up for free at 20 citywide boxing centers. Hayes says it’s a way to give at-risk boys a chance to build self confidence and participate in extra curricular activities.

“It’s total dedication for these kids. A lot of them feel their self esteem. They can do something on their own and not have to be on a team. This is giving them their individual independence. These kids could be on the corner watching drug dealers make money, be influenced by the streets instead of being in the Park District, working hard, making friends. It’s not just a workout and a physical thing, it’s building their self esteem and showing them that just because you’re fighting, you don’t take it personal, it’s a sport.”

Display for  boxing showcase at Daley Plaza. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

Display for boxing showcase at Daley Plaza. (Credit: Lisa Fielding)

The Youth Boxing program has produced a number of professionals including Olympians Michael Bennett, David Diaz, Nate Jones and Leroy Murphy and former Champion Montell Griffin.

The program runs nine months a year.

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