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The Light Behind the Shadow Boxing: YWCA Beacon Youth Learn to Box

By Travis Smith, YWCA Beacon program manager
August 23, 2019
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This summer, youth in our Beacon Learning Center program had the opportunity to attend boxing classes – getting exercise and learning positive ways to blow off steam along the way.

YWCA youth stand together with their boxing instructor

A Fighting Spirit

The Northside of Minneapolis is home to the descendants of Africans first enslaved in the Americas over 400 years ago. The generational trauma that the average Northside child contains, compounded by the pitfalls of systemic racism, requires positive outlets for them to secure a sensible future. The survival spirit is a fighting spirit, and this is what drives Mr. Morgan McDonald, founder of the Lucy Laney Boxing Academy, and the youth who gravitate to boxing.

Many lives are being fashioned into diamonds by Mr. McDonald via the Academy.

Power Punches and a Promise

Throughout the summer, YWCA Beacon youth went to boxing classes twice a week for six weeks. They met at 7:00 am for cardio (a light jog) and then transitioned to nine boxing stations, which rotated every two minutes. The students worked on power punches to release lingering frustrations and cultivate perseverance. Mr. Morgan holds the youth to a promise: to do the same things in school – work hard, dedicate themselves to improving and push through challenges! “If I see them run two miles, I know they can learn. When I see them learn combinations, I know they can learn math,” he says.

Girls With a Right Hook

This summer, there were more girls than boys in the classes, all eager to learn how to throw a jab, a right cross, a hook and an uppercut in perfect precise combinations. “The girls deal with a lot of things like boys do,” Mr. McDonald adds. “Yes we do!” notes one of the participants.

A Way to Navigate the Stressors of Life

The Academy gives youth a constructive avenue – a methodology to navigate the stressors of life. The hard work and dedication that YWCA Beacon youth are honing in the Academy will translate to their academic careers and countless other areas in their lives. This is part of the beauty of the program, along with the ability for the youth to compete, travel and experience new things.

“Helps Put Me in a Good Mood”

One YWCA Beacon participant says the boxing classes made her more productive: “I like to move around more and it puts me in a good mood when I’m done. It’s made me more positive and I’m not lazy.”

“It helped me get out some of my energy, do something fun in the summer and it helped me get fit.”

“It made me move on my feet. Every summer I do the same thing. But this summer, I got something to look forward to,” says another participant. One youth says, “It helped me get out some of my energy, do something fun in the summer and it helped me get fit.” All of them will continue to move forward with confidence and courage!

A Boxing match at the YWCA Beacons Summer Celebration

The rebellious spirit of the ancestors still lingers with these young people and boxing is an outlet to express it. We were fortunate to partner with the Lucy Laney Boxing Academy and we look forward to working with them again this fall. They have been a tremendous inspiration to many of our YWCA Beacon youth!

Learn More about YWCA Beacon Learning Centers