Boxing program keeps kids off street and boosts their confidence

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9 p.m. Extra: Gloves not Guns

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MESA - Michael Sanchez he is making sure a group of kids do not throw in the towel, not only in boxing, but in life.

"You want to keep them off the street. You want to keep them out of the gangs and off the drugs. And as long as they're here, they'r e doing neither," explains Sanchez. He is running a program called Gloves not Guns out of McKellips Middle School in Mesa. It is one of ten in the nation that received a $10,000 grant from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Sanchez admits, "We started with 15 kids and now we're anywhere from 35 to 45 kids nightly." For two hours a day, Monday through Thursday, kids ages 8 to 18 are in the ring trying to perfect their moves.

Sanchez explains, "They'll shadowbox for three rounds, then they'll go outside and get their bag work in, which consists of three rounds of a heavy bag, three rounds of upper cut bags and they do their jump rope. They'll warm-up outside with five laps around the course of the school."

The Gloves not Guns Program not only keeps these kids from taking their boxing moves out of the ring but doing good in school is also a part of the deal. Sanchez says, "They have to show improvement in their classroom. They're not going to be out causing trouble in school and be coming to this program."

Sanchez also says being in the ring has definitely helped a lot of these kids break out of their shells. "Some of them walk in the door and you can't get them to talk and then after a few weeks you can't get them to be quiet."

Ricardo Deleon, 15, tells 3TV, "I was really shy. I didn't have a lot of friends and now I do and I have a lot of confidence and things like that." Nine-year-old Alfredo Corral adds, "Yeah, everyone talks. They play around and all of that. They act like family like their brothers and all of that."

Sanchez says, "They mature so much faster. They're more confident in each other and you see the confidence they develop in themselves and then you kind of see a strut to them and their chest is puffed out a little bit."

The Gloves not Guns Program also prepares the kids to compete in tournaments. For more information on the program, contact Michael Sanchez at (480) 560-8114.