Restoration Housing Boxing Academy’s Dakayln Wilson (left) and Curtis Goodrich of Augusta through punches at each other and then – in a show of sportsmanship – helped each other exit the ring before posing for a post-bout photo. (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)

Dakayln Wilson likes boxing. Strike the like, he loves boxing; that’s how the 11 year old ended up in Augusta, Ark., last Saturday evening.

On Nov. 28, Wilson plans to be at the Memphis Fairgrounds – bobbing and weaving, snapping his jabs and executing his fight plan as a participant in Boxing at the Pipkin presented by Mayor Jim Strickland and the Memphis Office of Youth Services.

The upcoming event is a test of sorts. It is designed as a first-step measure of an initiative driven primarily by Memphis Boxing Group LLC and the nonprofit Battle of Life Foundation. The partnering groups have embraced a two-pronged, big-picture mission: “save our youth” and “declare war on crime in our neighborhoods.”

Boxing is the key. It’s being tapped as an attraction to lure local youth, with longer-term goals of fielding a Memphis amateur boxing team that would compete regionally, nationally and internationally.

Wilson made his way to Augusta with Clift Dates, Memphis Boxing Group’s principal organizer, and Eldridge “Pete” Mitchell, the founder of Restoration Housing Boxing Academy, boxing trainer Patrick Commander and two other boxers training with the academy.

Minutes after judges decided that he had lost his match, Wilson sat in the stands, watching two other boxes vie for a trophy.

“It’s OK,” Wilson said about the loss. “I’m gonna get back in the gym and work and go to my next fight. …It’s a serious sport.”

Patrick Commander trains “champions for life.” (Photo: Karanja A. Ajanaku)

Win, lose or draw, the young people trained by Restoration House Boxing Academy are taught that they are “champions for life,” Commander said, emphasizing that lessons learned inside the ring are far reaching.

“One of my biggest things with my kids is (teaching them that) the moment you lose your temper in boxing you have lost the fight … because you can’t think straight. It’s all right to be angry, but don’t lose your temper. …It’s the same way in the street.”

Other groups aligned with the Nov. 28 Boxing at the Pipkin event include the Afro-American Police Association and The New Tri-State Defender. Memphis Police Department administrators have embraced the effort to extend boxing opportunities to area youth. And Sheriff Floyd Bonner Jr. has said he will attend with other command staff personnel with an eye toward ways the Sheriff’s Office might support the ongoing effort.

Ike Griffith, who directs the Office of Youth Services, said Boxing at the Pipkin admission tickets are available at the Memphis Office of Youth Services, 315 S. Hollywood; Old Allen Station Police Precinct, 3633 Allen Rd. Crump Station Police Precinct, 949 E.H. Crump Blvd., Raines Station Police Precinct at 791 East Raines and the Airways Station Police Precinct at 2234 Truitt St.

Seating will be general admission. For special sponsorship seating, contact Maurice Johnson, The New Tri-State Defender’s sales director, at 901-523-1818; email: mjohnson@tsdmemphis.com.

 

ROAD TRIP TO AUGUSTA, ARK. GALLERY (Photos: Karanja A. Ajanaku)