Police Officers Boxing Each Other to Keep Kids Off Streets

The event helps raise money for the Community Youth Athletic Center in National City to help at-risk kids

A group of South Bay policemen is about to start going toe-to-toe in the boxing ring next week, fighting for a good cause.

The men in blue will fight on the deck of the USS Midway next Saturday for the annual Battle of the Badges. The event helps raise money for the Community Youth Athletic Center in National City to keep at-risk kids off the street.

Every day dozens of kids work out at the CYAC. The gym is a sanctuary for children who live in poorer neighborhoods. It's also a place where kids, can dare to dream.

“I want to be a world champion and go to college at the same time,” Jorge Chavez said.

Chavez was struggling in school when he started boxing. He's also seen some of his friends follow a destructive path.

“I grew up in [Barrio] Logan, it was a lot of violence,” he said. “Once I joined boxing, everything changed.”

For the volunteers and trainers here at the CYAC, the formula is simple — the more time the kids spend inside the gym, the less time they spend in the criminal justice system.

“Some of the kids that come in are from homeless shelters or they've been abused physically or mentally, and they just come because they're looking for help,” Clemente Casillas, the founder of CYAC, said.

About a third of the children who train at the CYAC are girls. The gym also offers specialized tutoring.

The center, especially, has been a lifeline for Chavez.

“I have some friends who do bad stuff, but I don't let them influence me now because my mentality is stronger now,” he said.

Chavez’s quest to be a champion is even more challenging because of his undocumented status.

“I'm a DACA,” he said, referring to the program that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought over as children to remain in the country. “Right now I’m in the current situation where I'm trying to become a citizen so I can travel more in the country and fight more nationally.”

Click here for tickets or for more information about the Battle of the Badges fundraiser.

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