Detroit youth boxing program expands into new facility

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

After operating out of a former car wash for eight years, the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program finally has a new home.

Chauncey Shaw, 9, uses the speed bag at the Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program’s new facility on East Vernor Highway in Detroit. The 27,500-square-foot building includes two boxing rings and a training facility.

On Wednesday, the Detroit nonprofit relocated to a 27,500-square-foot building on East Vernor Highway which houses two boxing rings, a training facility, computer lab, study rooms, and executive offices.

The program, which couples boxing with academic support and community volunteerism, received support from the Kresge Foundation and the Ray of Light Foundation, and as well as ROSSETTI and Sachse Construction, to make the move and expansion possible.

“It is through the generosity of these foundations and companies that have helped realize our dream,” said Jessica Hauser, executive director. “And the belief from everyone who knows us that our kids deserve a chance at a winning future.”

Founder and Program Director Carlo “Coach Khali” Sweeney started the organization in 2007 as a way to keep his own kids safe from the streets of Detroit. One hundred percent of its students who have finished the program have graduated high school, program officials said.

From left, Jamaria Monroe, Quintin Love, Detroit Boxing Gym Executive Director Jessica Hauser, founder Khali Sweeney, Chris Roberts, and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans attend ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Until this year, the program only had the capacity to serve 65 students age 7-18. With the new building, DBG Youth Program can expand the program to include up to 150 students by 2017.

“It’s been a labor of love,” said Coach Khali. “We started out in a former car wash, and as we’ve stood strong in the storms, the move to a new building is a significant step in making sure our kids get the education they deserve.”

JChambers@detroitnews.com