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How a boxing gym helps this Baltimore church fight for kids

As Baltimore continues to heal from the violence and turmoil that sprung up in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray, one church is drawing young kids to its ministry with a boxing gym, which teaches teamwork, discipline and pride. A version of this story was originally produced by Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    In Baltimore today, jury selection began in the first trial against six police officers related to the death of Freddie Gray.

    A small group of protesters demonstrated outside the courthouse, in a city that is still healing. One church in the Cherry Hill neighborhood is offering a unique ministry.

    A version of this piece was originally produced by the PBS program "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly."

    MIKE MOSLEY, Head Coach, Cross 4 Christ Boxing Gym: My name is Mike Mosley. I'm the head coach of Cross for Christ here at Created For So Much More Worship Center.

    All right, you all get in the line and look at this mirror. Bend at your knees. Good. That's good.

    I enjoyed fighting. Never was a bully. So, I was talking to my cousin one day. He said, you know, they recently opened up a boxing gym in the area.

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

  • BISHOP WILLARD SAUNDERS, Created For So Much More Worship Center:

    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.

  • MIKE MOSLEY:

    How you all late again?

  • BISHOP WILLARD SAUNDERS:

    And also creates commitment.

  • MIKE MOSLEY:

    Six o'clock. Six o'clock. Six o'clock.

  • BISHOP WILLARD 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 that it's 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.

  • MIKE MOSLEY:

    I haven't even lived a life half as rough as some of these kids. 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.

  • ISAIAH ROBINSON, Boxing Student:

    Boxing isn't about anger or violence. It is more about technique and flow. It lets me reach myself. 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 brung me closer to, you know, different people. And it kind of — it 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.

  • MIKE MOSLEY:

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

    One of the first kids that I worked with and helped with 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.

  • BISHOP WILLARD 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. 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 around 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.

  • MIKE MOSLEY:

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

    This gym is my everything. 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. And there's a freedom in that.

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