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Labor of Love With a Knockout Punch

The Highlanders Boxing Club, an athletic club with a purpose

By Gina Robles
Published on LatinoLA: November 19, 2012


Labor of Love With a Knockout Punch


Discipline…commitment…a sense of fair play and honest sportsmanship…an intelligent and healthy lifestyle…self respect …earned respect…maturity…honor…

…no, I'm not recruiting anybody for the U.S. Marines…I'm here to tell you about a youth program that is every bit as honorable , but just not so hard to get into: The Highlanders Boxing Club of Highland, California.

The sport of boxing does require an extraordinary amount of discipline , commitment to a healthy lifestyle, and intelligence, which results in a sense of respect and self accomplishment that many young people are lacking in our society today.

This lack of self worth presents itself in ways that are usually misunderstood by school officials and insensitive intellectuals in positions of public authority, which perpetuates a downward spiral of life for many, resulting in incarceration, substance abuse or in many cases, death, at an early age.

Poor academic performance, lack of respect for authority & society, and a turn to crime, violence, and substance abuse are sometimes the only avenues young people have in response to being one of the "have nots" and disenfranchised in society…many times feeling the resentment & rejection from others simply for the color of their skin or the ethnic origin they were born into without choice, and a need to "get even" with the society that rejects them.

Any historian or social scientist can tell you that since the beginning of time, and the evolution of modern society, violence (i.e. WAR ) has been the political means to an end , and anybody who ever spent time on a schoolyard as a young child knows the humiliation of being bullied, and good feelings felt whenever the school bully was finally beat up him or herself.

As any world leader can tell you, there is power in violence… and the better the potential for violence, and control over this violence…the more power felt, and more need for peace and prosperity to be imbued.

That being said, many accomplished adult persons in our society today can agree that athletic competition and the living of a healthy lifestyle from an early age has led them to their current level of success, and a calm sense of well being.

Boxing and martial arts are probably the most dynamic of individual sports, in that it is the epitome of controlled violence, self control, intelligence, and individual athletic competition put on for public display.

Both winners and losers walk away respected for their efforts. Both competitors must train arduously, and commit to a healthy lifestyle while learning the art to how to hurt somebody while protecting themselves.

These are not the kind of people who get picked on in schoolyards or on the street.

Let me tell you a tale about the streets and how the sport of boxing is making a difference in young people's lives… young people today who just might be our leaders tomorrow…

About 8 years ago, 2 brothers from the heart of South Central Los Angeles got a second chance in life that many in their sphere don't…

Tony and Sunny Cifuentes left the early disciplines and healthy lifestyle of boxing at the call of the streets in the L.A. neighborhood. Surrounded by the hopelessness of gangs, drugs, poverty, and violence, they too, had turned to crime and gang activity at a young age.

At the age of 17, his life took a shocking turning point when Tony was mistakenly arrested for murder. To be tried as an adult for his crime, Tony was facing a 15 year to life prison sentence .Fortunately, a witness came forward and testified that Tony was not he murderer, and he was subsequently released after serving a year in prison.

This was the impetus the boys needed to return to school and the healthy lifestyle of boxing as a way of surviving life on their terms, on their streets.
…they had decided that the gang lifestyle part of life was over and done.

…and they wanted to give something back in response to their given chance.
They decided to open up a boxing gym that welcomed kids from the street, and offered them a safe haven, change, and an opportunity for a second chance that life had thus far denied them, away from gangs, drugs, and violence.

They have been successful in their humble beginning, and many kids have profited in life by the change provided by the Highlander Boxing Club.

Highly supported by their local Mayor, Police and Fire Departments, the National Latino Peace Officers Association, The WATCH ME RISE Youth Organization, and of course grateful parents and family members, the HIGHLANDERS BOXING CLUB supports itself strictly on donations, and dedicated volunteers that make it work.

Proving that there is light at the end of the tunnel for many young people previously considered "throwaway's" , the Highlander Boxing Club and WATCH ME RISE Youth & Family Mentoring organization need your help to keep this labor of love in operation, fulfilling many dreams…and hopefully, ending many nightmares.

…won't you help us out ?

Highlander Boxing Club
Head Coach Tony Cifuentes
26127 E. 6th Street
Highland, CA
909-496-7268
http://highlandersboxingclub.org/

Gina Robles
Watch Me RISE !
Youth & Family Mentoring Program
909-268-9029
ginarwmr@hotmail.com

About Gina Robles:
Gina Robles is the founder and Director of the WATCH ME RISE ! Youth & Family Mentoring Program
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