TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It's place for kids to be themselves and find themselves. The Lincoln Center Boxing Club is about more than just boxing, it's a safe haven for local youth to become champions, and not just in the ring, but in life.
Tyres Williams, head coach and trainer at the Lincoln Center Boxing Club, says many of the young people who come into the program are off-balance in their lives.
"Our job here at the Lincoln Center is to get them on balance, on track and moving forward in their future," said Williams.
Boxing, like life, isn't just a physical game, it's also a mental one and to succeed, both body and mind need to be disciplined.
"We want to prepare them and give them something that will carry them through hard times in life," said Williams. "And know how to breathe and relax and just walk away from a lot of hard issues sometimes."
And clearly that preparation works. 13-year-old Esiah Hughes has been boxing for three years and says boxing helps him to get through tough life situations that before boxing, he may have handled differently.
"A lot of kids pick on me, and if I had never done boxing, I'd probably get into a lot of fights and probably be in Juvie or something," said Hughes.
Kids, ages 8 to 18, get mentorship and counseling through the program. Williams says he sees a lot positive changes in those who participate.
10-year-old Basil Ferguson says the club has given him a sense of pride and focus, making him feel good.
"I'm not like one of those people out in the street. I'm not a gangster. No. I'm a normal person who comes here I'm a boxer," said Basil.
His brother, 14-year-old Hamza Ferguson, has many interests besides boxing. He plays the tuba in band and runs track. He says boxing helps him stay calm and hitting things in the ring is a fun stress reliever.
"Out in the street you can get in trouble, but in the boxing ring, you can't get in trouble for it," said Hamza.
As Rocky Balboa said, "It's not about how hard you hit, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward."
"That's our goal here. To help them realize that nothing is too big, that they can conquer it and they can walk away from it with a smile," said Williams.
Williams describes the program as family oriented, friendly, welcoming and loving. Everyone is welcome. If you would like more information about the free program you can go to the Lincoln Center Boxing Club Facebook page.
Some of the members of the Lincoln Center Boxing Club are taking part in the Victory is my Destiny amateur boxing competition this weekend. Boxers from all over Florida and the US are coming to Tallahassee to compete.
It's Saturday, July 27 at the National Guard Armory in Tallahassee. It starts at 5:00 p.m. and tickets range from $5 to $15.