The sport of boxing is alive and well in KCK. Seven years ago three men appealed to a higher power about the prospect of preaching pugilism, otherwise known as boxing.
"We got a plan, and we prayed about it - just trying to be a good ministry for all of us, trying to give back and hopefully, help our young people have a better life as they grow up in this world," said Greg Suttington, the boxing center director.
If Suttington's name sounds familiar, it could be because he's a minister at New Life Church in Kansas City, MO. Or maybe people remember him as the kid from KCK who punched his way to the National Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championship in 1990. And, for a time during his professional boxing career, he was ranked 12th in the world.
"I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the whole fight scene; it was a great achievement for me," Suttington said.
Suttington didn't open the boxing center at 17th Street and Parallel Parkway to make money. In fact, as a nonprofit, it loses money, and all the coaches there volunteer their time.
"This place is a labor of love, is actually what it is," boxing coach Marlyn Nevels said.
As a judge for USA amateur boxing, Nevels knows a thing or two about the ring and said the goal of the place is teach young people the value of work ethic and self-discipline while building self-esteem.
"We've noticed in feedback we get that this helps students in their schoolwork and at home," Nevels said.
Everyone involved is so proud of what's going on in the basement of the boxing center. They've created a computer learning center to give kids who might not have a computer at home a place to log on and learn.
"I feel God-driven to be able to build a resource place for kids and a safe haven to be able to get away from everything else for a moment. Even if their homes are not doing well, they can come here and relax for just a minute," Suttington said.
In the computer learning center, Suttington and his team aren't just coaches, they're mentors. It's much more than just learning how to box because, they say, what the kids learn inside the gym will help them deal with life outside the ring.
"I wanted to put something here for these kids that, when things don't work out for them, they don't go grab a gun, or try to steal or hurt people. That they can have some place to go to exhort their frustration and energy to be able to sit down and think calmly," Suttington said.
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