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Boxing champions encouraging kids to fight in the ring, not the neighborhood

ST. LOUIS – Two former world championship boxers from St. Louis are striving to give inner city youth a fighting chance.

Arthur Johnson and Devon Alexander expressed their concerns surrounding recent youth violence in the community. An amateur boxing event coming this weekend is encouraging kids to fight it out in the ring, not in the neighborhood.

“I understand what the kids are going through, I understand exactly what their everyday life is like; I grew up in north St. Louis, and I know exactly when it comes to walking down the street and hear gunshots,” Alexander said. “That’s not a normal environment for a kid anyway…I want to be able to help these kids by facilitation that will help them know that they can do it.”

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis has partnered with Johnson and Alexander in this event, who are both multi-time world boxing champions.

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“I always tell people that boxing is life because you have the knockdowns, right? So when you get knocked down, you don’t stay down. You get up,” Johnson said. “You have all of that in life. It teaches them that responsibility; it teaches them that redirection they need.”

Participants will be in the ring Saturday at Harris Stowe State University. Julion Smith, 12, says these kinds of activities inspire youth from St. Louis and other major cities.

“It helps me with my anger outbursts, it helps me with my attitude, and it helps me with my patience,” Smith said. “And it honestly helped me become a better person overall.”

Organizers of the event say boxing has had a major impact on their lives and helped them get on the right track.

“We’ve got to be concerned about what we’re seeing coming out of our young people today. St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and East St. Louis, our young people are really crying out for help,” James Clark from the Urban League said. “(We are working) to give our young people a highly visible way to express themselves.”

To purchase tickets to the event, click here or call 314-599-5375.

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