Amid the reports of youth suicides tied to bullying incidents in the last couple of years, Holly Reynolds was especially upset by the story of Jamey Rodemeyer, the Buffalo, N.Y., area teen who had made an “It Gets Better” video. Better times for Jamey never came, as he took his own life in September 2011.
To help young people like Jamey, Reynolds and Ronnell “Bigg Ron” Jones set up Fight Club KC, a youth boxing group that does not promote violence, but instead uses boxing as a tool to reach and strengthen bullied youth.
Fight Club KC, which is open to all 12- to 17-year-old youth, encourages its members to talk about their experiences. Although not LGBT-focused, it is LGBT-welcoming, and it values and respects the beauty of diversity.
After an initial season at Overland Park’s TITLE Boxing Club, Fight Club moved its workout venue across the state line to The Gym KC. Owner Jonetta Stewart now provides the club with its training space at 3600 Broadway St., Kansas City, Mo.
Fight Club KC aims to teach its students compassion, self-respect and tools of empowerment. It is not a self-defense course. The student-to-instructor ratio is 3:1. Adult volunteers are subject to background checks and share the belief that youth should feel safe, loved and encouraged.
Key elements of the eight-week sessions include check-in, warm-up, stretch, calisthenics, circuit training and cardio boxing. Students are shown how to prevent injury and maximize their workouts. They also learn about proper nutrition and living a healthful lifestyle while constructively releasing aggression and internalized emotions. The fitness portion of each class is followed by a 30-minute presentation by a relevant guest speaker.
Artists, musicians, athletes and community leaders are among the featured speakers. Fight Club KC’s current director, Shawn Brick, became involved with the organization after he participated as a guest speaker. Brick was an amateur Thai boxing world finalist. He is busy making Fight Club KC into a 501(c)3 nonprofit, holding chili suppers, garage sales and pizza parties along the way. Community involvement and volunteers are also essential to the club’s success.
Part of the group’s mission statement reads: “Our goal is to give them [youth> the tools they need to build a strong sense of self-respect and confidence through the discipline of cardio boxing coupled with encouraging words from relevant advocates in our community.”
If You Go
The Fight Club program is free of charge and meets Sundays from 3 to 4:45 p.m. Release forms from parents/guardians and student essays are mandatory. Participants must attend every session and be dressed appropriately to work out: T-shirt, gym shorts, socks and sneakers (plus a 32-ounce water bottle). The community and The Gym KC provide all other equipment.
On the first Sunday of each session, parents, legal guardians and participants are asked to arrive early for registration and discussion of guidelines and expectations. See Fight Club’s Facebook page — facebook.com/FightClubKC — for specifics and for the announcement of when the spring session begins.
For more information, send Shawn Brick an email
at email@example.com (put “FIGHT CLUB” in the subject line).