It's almost 6 p.m. at a south-city boxing gym and young folks -- boys and girls ranging in ages from eight to seventeen -- are warming up by throwing shadow punches, practicing their footwork, or catching their breath from a run. In a few moments, two youngsters will lace up some gloves and enter the ring for a friendly spar to practice the skills they learned from their coaches.
Marcus Luther and DeMarcus Murphy, both eight years old, strap on their head gear and get into their corners. One of their coaches, a burly, no-nonsense man, holds a stopwatch. "Go!" he yells, and the two young fighters move toward each other with a boxer's swagger well beyond their age, each maintaining a well-structured stance, ready to strike.
Murphy throws a punch, causing his dreadlocks to fly back. Luther ducks and returns a swing that barely misses his opponent. They back up, do it again, this time connecting more than the last, and again.
"Corner!" the coach grunts, and the boys, who had just been fighting like men, take a breather.
This is St. Louis All City Boxing, a nonprofit boxing gym where kids and young adults can get an education in the sweet science for no cost. And in addition to learning how to spar, members can learn how to eat more healthfully on a plant-based, vegan diet. It's all part of an athletic and nutrition program that founders Ami and Bill Mackey hope to grow in the coming months.
"When we drove through here for the first time last year, we thought this is a place where we could do our dream," Ami, who moved here with her husband last year from St. Paul, Minnesota, tells Daily RFT.
"There are lots of boxing programs across the country and, though they might do a good job about boxing, they don't necessarily go the extra distance to find out what the kids are doing before they get to the gym and after they go to the gym. So we knew we wanted to put together a program that was more like family and that provided them with the stability they need."
A vegan boxing gym might sound a bit trendy to some, but the Mackeys know what they're talking about. Both work with members of Team USA's boxing team -- Bill as a boxing coach and Ami as a plant-based nutritional consultant. Their clients include eight-time national champion and current national team captain Cam F. Awesome.
Click on the next page for more about All-City Boxing...
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