Derek T. Brown is a North Lawndale resident whose passion for boxing is changing the lives of young boys and girls across the community. He established the Lawndale Boxing Club, in 2010, as he saw it met a need for the safety and integrity of the youth around him. He wanted to do something different and saw boxing as an alternative to disciplining children, as it was implemented when he was a child.
Even though Brown was not inspired to be a boxer, he explained,”it was just like I fell into it, when I was 8 years old someone just started training me how to box and I went nowhere with it.” He saw an opportunity to put the skills he had to good use.
“There were a lot of stumps in my life, and one day I was sitting in front of a school and saw a group of kids throwing rocks at the cars, and it was like I was looking at myself.” It was almost as if Brown had an epiphany when he saw these children. He did not want to see any more children end up like himself. Nor did he want to see himself get into any more trouble.
Interestingly enough, Brown never tries to recruit a specific child nor do they have to fit a certain description. As he simply put it, “I am seeking out any child that needs help, at risk children are on my list, youth that are often turned down.” What also makes the Lawndale Boxing Club unique, is the fact that both boys and girls are equally involved. Brown does give preferential treatment to the young girls because they are female, he believes in them just as much as he believes in the young boys; in their potential and the ability to exceed that potential.
Because of this ideal, in a way, the young girls are natural tools for young boys to get on the right track and to keep them there. Brown states that “I treat everyone in the league as equal, but what I have noticed are the young ladies are the sharper ones. The women are the leaders and it helps the league because the young men try to impress the young girls.”
Brown takes status very seriously when it comes to his students; he encourages the ladies to have high standards and high values of themselves. He lets them know they are queens. “As long as they keep high standards of themselves, the young men who are trying to attract them will keep high standards of themselves and that will bring the king and, most of all, the leadership out of everyone.”
The boxing techniques used with the youth are methods for life. He makes it so that the things they are taught can be applied to encounters throughout the rest of their lives. He wants his students to be able to use the fight or flight technique to make the correct, on-the-spot decision. Boxing is a lifestyle. Fighters have to work hard for it, just like everything else in life. And just like everything in life, boxing requires the utmost discipline.
Written By Alexandria Martin
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Interview: Derek T. Brown on August 9, 2017
Image Courtesy of Derek T. Brown – Used With Permission