In this Corner

Meet some local students who have benefitted from the strength, discipline and focus they’ve learned from boxing.

Michelle, 18

Michelle has been training with Sam Colonna for three years. She grew up in a single-parent household in the South Side of Chicago and says she has gained strength and inspiration from her relationships with Sam and the other trainers and boxers at the gym.

Michelle says the gym provides a tight-knit community that supports young people who would otherwise be vulnerable to gang associations, violence or crime. “The way this generation is set up, there are so many kids that are out in the streets not reaching their goals. They’re growing up to be mad at the world. But with boxing, as soon as you come in, you’re part of a family. It’s the family you least expected.”

Michelle is in college studying criminal justice and wants to become a police officer. “Boxing has made me the person I am now,” she says. “It’s taught me to never give up on what you want to do in life.”

Jovanni, 14

“Boxing has kept me off the streets and kept me in school,” says Jovanni. His training at the gym has made him feel happy and energized, and connected him with friends and positive adult role models.

“Even when I’m in the ring, I feel safe,” he says. “They’re always there for me.” Jovanni plans to keep boxing, and in the future wants to join the Secret Service or serve as a member of a SWAT team.

Mohamad, 18

Mohamad says he has learned respect and discipline from his boxing training. “It makes you humble and makes you an all-around better person.” Many of his friends don’t have that same drive. “They focus more on the streets than they do on themselves. I try to stay away from that, stay away from distractions and bad influences.”

Mohamad, who is training for a professional boxing career, says he wants to serve as a role model for younger boxers coming up in the gym. “I want to show them that you can come up from nothing, and if you put in hard work, believe in yourself, and have right people around you, you can do anything you want.”

“Even when I’m in the ring, I feel safe.”
-Jovanni
“The gym itself won’t take away your problems, but it motivates you work hard in everything you do.”
-Michelle