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(Congregation singing) Open the eyes…Open the eyes of my heart…

MIKE MOSLEY (Head Coach, Cross4Christ Boxing Gym, Baltimore): My name is Mike Mosley. I’m the head coach of Cross4Christ Gym here at Created for So Much More Worship Center.

I want to see you…

I was born in Baltimore about five minutes from the gym.

I want to see you…

I grew up a little bit in the country, a little bit in the city.Mosley

High and lifted up…

And I also always grew up with a fascination with fighting.

(Speaking to boxing students): All right, so you all get in the line and look at this mirror. Bend at your knees. Good. That’s good.

I enjoy fighting. Never was a bully.

All right, left foot.

So, I was talking to my cousin one day. He said, you know, they recently opened up a boxing gym in the area.

Boom. Put this fist up. Always protect home. Your face is home.

And I said oh, where? And he said, in the church up the street.

Don’t hit it hard. Just try to hit it quick.

And I said, in the church?

Boxing-GymAnd he said, yeah. He said, you know, I see the guys out there. They got equipment. They got everything you need.

Let’s go.

The fact that the gym was in a church, it didn’t really affect me either way.

Good, good A.J.

This was a point in my life where I was as far from the church as I’ve been in my life...

Good. Stay in a good stance.

…living only for myself, not realizing that there is more out there. As far as going to church, praising and worshipping God, that was the furthest thing from my mind.

Oh, oh, oh….

About a year after that I was going through some personal problems. Just some things that punching a bag wasn’t doing—it wasn’t cutting it. I went to the service, and it was so moving and amazing, it changed my life.

(Singing): I want to see you…holy, holy…

Pastor Willard Saunders, he’s an amazing pastor, amazing bishop. He’s changed my life in more ways than I can count.

Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus.

02-SAUNDERSBISHOP WILLARD SAUNDERS (speaking to congregation): How many of you really want to be great at something in your life? You guys that are boxing, you want to be great? You know what the price of greatness is? Never satisfied. Sometimes the dissatisfaction comes through trauma and pain. Sometimes God puts you in a situation where you got to either fight or die. That has to be the defining factor of who you’re going to be.

The boxing program has become a medium that is a part of our ministry to help children, young men and women, to be able to reach their own potential through an activity that creates discipline….

MOSLEY (speaking to boxing students): How you all late again?

BISHOP SAUNDERS: …and it also creates commitment…

MOSLEY (to boxing students): Six o’clock. Six o’clock. Six o’clock.

BISHOP SAUNDERS: …and it really helps us to be able to minister to them. It’s not even separate from our ministry. It is our ministry. And we have been able for the past several years to see the great success it has had, to be able to get kids who would be involved in violence in some sort of way out on the street to now come to the boxing gym and be able to learn and to learn the skill of boxing and also get the word of God at the same time.

MOSLEY: I haven’t even lived a life half as rough as some of these kids.

That’s the way you do it. Let’s go.

Every minute that a kid is in this gym, every evening that a kid is in this gym, they are in a safe zone…

Jab your way in there. There you go. There you go.

They are protected.

I like that.

15-RobinsonISAIAH ROBINSON (Boxing Student): Boxing isn’t about anger or violence. It is more about technique and flow. It lets me reach myself.

Make him pay for it. Uh-huh.

It keeps me out of the streets. It keeps me busy.

ASANTE TATE (Boxing Student): Boxing is not about aggression at all. It made me humble as a young teen. It kind of took me away from the immaturity and outside of the gym, and kind of brought me closer to, you know, different people, and it kind of made me see the world a different way. When I came in here, like I felt like I belonged here, like I actually became a part of this family.

MOSLEY: My hope for the kids is just to awaken something in them that can’t be put to sleep.

What’s up ‘Te?

One of the first kids that I worked with and helped with his skills, Dante, become an assistant coach. To see a kid who used to be on the street making money in ways that weren’t legal, to see him working with the kids and spending his time and giving them his gifts, his intelligence, his skills, his savvy, and really enjoying doing that, that just makes me ecstatic, because that is what it’s about.

Dante-TrainingBISHOP SAUNDERS: Children in this community don’t know what success looks like. They don’t know what love and discipline look like together. They don’t know life. They don’t know death. They don’t understand the consequences of it, because that piece of it has been missing. Boxing doesn’t just teach you respect for your ability, but respect for your opponent, that you can be defeated. They learn what it feels like to fail in the boxing gym, but they learn how much harder they have got to go back and work and come back and be successful and to be able to work at it. That gives you a respect for life. It also gives you a respect for death. And it gives you, more importantly, a respect for yourself and for other human beings.

(Singing): Holy, holy, holy. Oh, to see you high and lifted up…High and lifted up…

MOSLEY: I have a lot of dreams for this gym, but my real dream and my real hope is just for the kids.

Pour out your power of love as we sing holy, holy, holy…

This gym is my everything.

As we sing holy, holy ….

In life there is so much temptation. There’s so much bad out there that it’s hard to know that you’re doing the right thing. I know 100 percent of the time when I’m in the gym is the right thing.

To see you high and lifted up… Shining in the light of your glory….

And there’s a freedom in that.

Power out your power of love, as we sing holy, holy, holy…Oh, to see you high and lifted up, high and lifted up…

The Boxer

As the city of Baltimore continues to heal from the racial violence and turmoil that arose last year, Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly visits one church that is drawing young people to its ministry with a boxing gym that teaches discipline, respect, and a sense of pride.