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Boxing at the Pipkin – the next step

The road to hosting a youth-oriented event dubbed Boxing at the Pipkin on Nov. 28 would be a much tougher path to cover without substantive participation of local law enforcement.

This week, high-ranking brass placed the Memphis Police Department and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office squarely in league with the effort initiated by Memphis Boxing Group LLC and the nonprofit Battlefield of Life Foundation.

The City of Memphis’ Office of Youth Services is sponsoring Boxing at the Pipkin, with Director Ike Griffith on point.

“We really wanted to make sure that we had law enforcement involved in thus process,” said Griffith during a meeting held at the offices of The New Tri-State Defender, another sponsoring partner.

Clift Dates, the key organizer of Memphis Boxing Group, formerly secured support from the Sheriff’s Office during a meeting on Monday with Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr., Eldridge “Pete” Mitchell of Restoration House Boxing Academy and Karanja A. Ajanaku, Associate Publisher/Executive Editor of The New Tri-State Defender.

“We (already) have Lt. (Tyrone) Curry with the Afro-American Police Association and we really wanted to bring in the City of Memphis (Police Department),” Griffith said. “We talked with Director (Mike) Rallings and he is on board. This is a unification that we need to make sure (of) our efforts, especially for this first event.

“We want to make sure the awareness is out. We know the mayor is on board; youth is his top priority. We want to give positive opportunities to our young people in the city of Memphis.”

The Nov. 28 event is designed to lead to a flow of events and programming centered around the use of boxing as an attraction to lure local youth. Down the road would be a Memphis amateur boxing team that would compete regionally, nationally and internationally.

“We want to continue this work far beyond boxing,” Griffith said. “It (boxing) has proved to be a workable project. It has been in years past.”

Dates and Mitchell have retired and have stepped up to “save our youth” and “declare war on crime in our neighborhoods.”

Deputy Chief Michael Hardy said he’d been talking with Mitchell for some time about reestablishing boxing as an option for youth, especially those considered “at risk.” He’d also talked with one of the officers at the MPD boxing gym.

“We were just waiting for the invitation,” Hardy said. “We are excited to be a part of this. We have several youth programs. Lt. Curry is also a lieutenant in our community outreach program, so he is involved in a lot of our youth programs.”

“We attempted at one time to get boxing established with our PAL program, but we did not have the resources for that. If youth come to our PAL organizers, we kind of shift them toward our boxing gym. That’s the venue we’ve been using to assist at-risk youth that need some way to take out this aggression – that’s legal –and won’t get them in trouble.”

The MPD boxing gym has been around for years and puts MPD in position to interact with other boxing groups and even the Grizzlies.

“We have several youth that have gone through our boxing program and become police officers,” Hardy said. “

Most of the referrals to the MPD boxing gym are from Juvenile Court. “Officers at that location talk to them and tell them about boxing and instruct them in boxing and hopefully keep them out of trouble through tournaments and things of that nature and kind of build their character.

“And let them know that there is something better than just being out there on the streets doing things that you have no business doing,” said Hardy. “That’s the approach we try to take…give them another avenue. … Everybody isn’t a baseball, basketball or football player. “

Griffith said MPD would be looked to for security, along with the Sheriff’s Office for the Nov. 28 event.

“Just the idea of having the total law enforcement community involved has a psychological effect,” said Dates. “This is a serious event that we are taking with steps and measures that we are involving ourselves in…Law enforcement would be the best piece, I think, when you are dealing with youth who are trying to decide which way they are gonna go in life.”

“So many youth are looking for something to do. This avenue would be a positive step in the right direction.”

At the event, which is free, there will be a table set up for youth (boys and girls) to sign up, if they are interested in boxing. There also will be a table with information about the MPLOY summer youth program.

Seating will be general admission and a ticket is required. More information about the availability will be announced soon. For special sponsorship seating, contact Clift Dates at 901-340-5261.

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