Elite SFN offers boxing classes for Kids, youth and adults in Baltimore
Elite SFN now provides Kid's After School Boxing Classes!
In 2015 state officials approved plans for a new $30 million youth prison in Baltimore, Maryland. Governor Larry Hogan opted to use $11.6 million set aside for the city’s school system to help finance the state’s pension fund. This all occurred, of course, against the backdrop of the killing of Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose spinal cord was nearly severed while in police custody in April. His death sparked days of rioting, with the news media broadcasting images of teenagers setting fire to cars and businesses across Baltimore, a physical manifestation of the city’s pent up rage and frustration.
If the events of 2015 have taught us anything, it is that there are systems in place in Baltimore City that set young people, particularly young people of color, up to fail. And the agencies designed to protect and serve these children often seem unable—or, perhaps worse, unwilling—to alter this reality for them.
Baltimore's Boxing Community
Once a month, roughly 30 boys from the heart of Baltimore make the trek out to the nearby suburb of Columbia to work with Ritter at his gym, Elite SFN. Though the sessions are by all accounts a success, initially OMOL was hesitant to subject children from areas plagued by violent crime to such an intrinsically violent sport. The organization was used to having poets, journalists and city council members come speak to the kids—hoping to steer their aspirations toward academics rather than the streets—and at first glance a boxing program felt like a step in the wrong direction.
Elite SFN boxing classes in Baltimore offer discipline.
Boxing is about violence only on the surface. For these young fighters, the sport offers the promise of discipline, a sense of self-worth, and a healthy channel for their aggressions. It is less about violence and more about the avoidance of a darker, more insidious violence that lurks beyond the gym doors. For trainers like Ritter—who grew up in New York City, bouncing between Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx before moving to Maryland as a teenager—it seems boxing is merely an avenue to show these kids that there are people in the community who are truly invested in their futures.
Kwame Ritter himself is a boxing success story. He has become a professional, yes, but the sport has also transformed him from a troubled student into a business owner and a role model in his community. His debut bout last November at the Royal Farms Arena marked the first professional fight in Baltimore in decades. He won the match by knockout in the second round, but the real spectacle was the six amateur bouts put on the ticket before the main event—a dozen Baltimore kids ages 8 to 13, who the crowd said fought harder than the pros.
The event was the first installment of the Baltimore Boxing Renaissance series and produced in part by Shabazz Shakur, a promoter in the area who also mentors young fighters at boxing gyms throughout the city.
We're getting these kids that are considered to be somewhat high-risk to get in trouble and we're pulling them off the streets, getting them away from gangs, and we're putting them in the gym so they can channel that energy and that aggression into boxing,” he says. "These kids are really, really tough, but they love the sport."
Shakur and his organization, Shabazz Brothers, cover expenses for Baltimore youth interested in training at local gyms. He’s seen the sport save children from homelessness and witnessed disagreements solved in the ring with a pair of gloves rather than on the street with a pair of guns. The city, he says, is lacking in youth centers and YMCAs, the schools too underfunded to sponsor all the programs the children need. He uses boxing as a conduit to preach the importance of education, and makes sure the children he works with show him their report cards before they’re able to first step foot in the gym.
Dealing with these kids is actually a full time job,” says Shakur, adding that he tries to reach children as young as five and six, before the gangs have a chance to get to them. “Because I want them to realize that I don't only care about you when you’re in the ring. I care about you when you go home. I care about you when you’re in school.
The reason why these kids are associating and attaching themselves to these gangs is because they don't feel no love, he continues. "[Gang members] giving them drugs or giving them guns, they take that as a form of love, and in reality they're not realizing that it's just a form of abuse.
For Baltimore youth whose mothers and fathers aren't always around "boxing became their parents in a way" says Shakur. He claims that every child who fought at the Baltimore Boxing Renaissance has stopped getting into trouble since beginning their training. The sport offers these kids structure and self-confidence, but more importantly, the opportunity represents a showing of love, hope and support from their city.
The youth nowadays are not dumb. They know when nobody cares about them. "That's why they just tore Baltimore City up" explains Shakur, who says he was out during the riots trying to speak with kids and calm the unrest. "We have to come together and really just love our youth again. That's really what it's all about.
Baltimore Boxers shadowbox to prepare themselves physically and mentally for a match, and as a means of finding rhythm while perfecting style and technique.
This movement, mixed with elements of modern day training methods is the foundation for evolving the group class fitness experience. By reimagining these practices, we create a full-body workout incorporating body weight exercises with high-intensity rounds of shadowboxing and heavy bag work using various guided punch combos.
THE HEAVY BAG BOXING WORKOUT
It has long served as the basic tool of any Baltimore boxers training regime and is extremely useful for toning muscles and elevating heart rates. Each heavy bag weighs approximately 150-lbs and is constructed using heavy-duty material, built for the intensity of daily workouts.
The lead (front) hand thrown in a quick/sharp manner. It’s said the fastest Jab is the most relaxed Jab. Use this punch to set up combinations and to measure distance. The ﬁst should rotate inward 90 degrees like pouring out a mug. The hand should come back to the face as fast as it's struck forward. Think of it like whipping a towel, producing a “sting” eﬀect with the glove. This is the most used punch in Baltimore boxing.
The rear hand thrown with more power. The glove starts at the chin, travels across the chest/shoulder and lands with the rear shoulder and hips rotating forward. Like the jab, rotate the ﬁst 90 degrees before landing and snap the punch oﬀ the bag and back to the chin where it started. The legs are critical as weight must be transferred from back to front in unison with the arms and then recoil back. Think of a lunge exercise when practicing. The cross can be the most satisfying punch to throw when done correctly.
Thrown with either hand towards the side of a target. The speed and power comes from legs and hips to get rotation. The foot should pivot and the heel point outward to allow for greater range. When extended, imagine pulling a cape across your face to get form correct. This punch is hard to master but devastating when executed correctly.
Thrown with either hand, and typically at close range. Imagine punching upward underneath a crossbar. Rotate hips just like a cross for the backhand upper cut and like a hook for lead hand upper cut. Remember to KEEP YOUR HANDS UP when throwing all punches but especially these as the tendency is to drop them. Use less arm and more shoulder to keep form correct. The upper cut can be used at all sorts of angles and heights and will give your arms that lean chiseled look.