Guns Down, Gloves Up: Boxing club teaches discipline to Indy's at-risk youth

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Youth violence is a troubling problem in Indianapolis that many people are working to address.

At least eight homicide victims this year have been under the age of 20.

This weekend at the Vegas Boxing Club on the northwest side, two special guests entered the ring to show kids they have options.

"Guns down, Gloves Up" is not only the name of the program, it’s the mission here at the Vegas Boxing Club. Trainer Michael Carr reaches out to kids who are at-risk for violent behavior or to be caught in addiction.

“Well, a lot of them are on probation or have been in trouble with the law already or may be in an at-risk situation at home,” said Carr. “We reach them and build a constructive behavior pattern before a destructive one sets in.”

60 kids from across the city are being taught what it takes to be a boxer. For heavy-weight boxer Franklin “Yah Yah” Lawrence, it’s much more than just fighting in the ring. He wanted to share his personal story to show that second chances are real.

“Those kids are me all over again,” said Lawrence. “I got shot. I got shot by the guy looking for a lucrative opportunity, but twenty years, later I’m good. I’m well, and I got a story to tell.”

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor also stopped by practice to talk with the kids. He believes they are on the right track and wanted them to know that the police department needs them to be successful and off the streets. He emphasized why it’s important to stay that way.

“Our issue is we want to make sure that you stay strong and stay out of trouble and that I’m not going to a funeral with you in the casket sometime down the road or see you come back through the system because you’ve committed some other crime,” said Taylor.

Chief Taylor stressed that officers aren’t enemies, they’re here to help.

“The police department is right alongside of you,” Taylor added. “We’re not going to let anything happen to you. Don’t let anything happen to yourself, but we need you guys to be strong, we need you guys to be successful.”

Those at the club hope that through boxing, the kids will learn discipline and take that with them outside of the ring.

“Stay away from guns, stay away from violence and stay away from areas where you don’t belong,” said Lawrence. “Listen to your mother.”

The Vegas Boxing Club is located at 4407 Lafayette Road. To learn more about the program, you can call (317) 760-9181.

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