CHICAGO (CBS) — It has been a troubling year in Chicago with gun violence steadily rising.
On Thursday night, CBS 2’s Jermont Terry introduced us to a program that hopes to knock out youngsters picking up weapons.
On the city’s West Side, the boxing gloves are coming on and the jabs and punches are being thrown. Nicholas Randolph, 10, was getting boxing tips.
“It’s fun, and it’s entertaining too,” Nicholas said.
But the youngsters are doing more than just having fun. Every punch is an attempt to keep them on the right track, through the Gloves Up Guns Down program.
“It is a gun violence prevention popup,” said organizer Riccardo Holyfield. “So we pop up in all different parts of Chicago in the areas that’s needed.”
Through boxing skills, the nonprofit hopes the boys they train can avoid fights that often lead to gun retaliation in Chicago.
“At the end of every altercation, it’s always, ‘I’m going to shoot you, or, ‘I’m going to get my people to shoot you,’” Holyfield said. “You don’t got to do that. You don’t even got to get into an altercation. You can easily avoid it, just like in boxing. You pivot. You move.”
And while the boxing is designed to help the kids it trains, the trainers are something out of this too.
“You come here and you see the joy that they get just by seeing somebody care about them; somebody playing that role of coach and mentor in their life, and they don’t have that oftentimes,” said Ramy Daoud.
Daoud owns two gyms in the suburbs.
“I’m here on West Side because it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
Volunteering with Gloves Up Guns Down leaves him fulfilled.
“I’ve benefited so much from this,” Daoud said, “and to see the same joy and passion in these kids’ eyes, it means to world to me.”
But wherever Gloves Up Guns Down pops up, youngsters are safer for the time being.