Derek T. Brown is a North Lawndale resident, who is using his passion for boxing to change the lives of young boys and girls across the community. He wanted to do something different to build up and encourage young people and established the Lawndale Boxing League in 2010. Brown’s program for teens, Boxing Out Negativity (B.O.N.), differs from other programs or activities by placing an emphasis on the mental aspect of boxing as well as the physical aspect.
Physical training alone, cannot prepare today’s youth for all aspects of life. B.O.N has a unique agenda which strives to make youth ready for the real world. This program is not about just punches; in fact, the goal is for students to become more than just boxers. The techniques they learn are only tools to find the true meaning of the sport. B.O.N. members are equipped with techniques such as using the opponent’s power against himself as well as proper punching methods. Brown believes with mental training, students can achieve anything they want including a high level of physical development and fitness or even academic achievements such as a Ph.D.
Brown views boxing as an alternative to disciplining children, the way it was implemented when he was a child. He explained, “It was just like I fell into it when I was eight years old. Someone just started training me how to box and I went nowhere with it.” Even though Brown was not inspired to be a boxer, he found an opportunity to put his skills to good use.
Brown did not want to see children end up in trouble with the law. He recalled having an epiphany, which he explained as follows:
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.
At that moment, he decided it was time to do something to help these underprivileged teens and soon after, B.O.N. was birthed. Brown does not recruit a specific type of child for the program. Instead, he stated:
I am seeking out any child that needs help, at risk children are on my list and youth that are often turned down.
Part of what makes the Lawndale Boxing League unique is that boys and girls are equally involved. Brown does not give the girls special treatment. He believes in them just as much as the boys; in their potential and the ability to exceed that potential.
Because of this ideal, in a way, the girls are natural tools for the boys to get on the right track and stay there. Brown stated, “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 encourages the ladies to have high standards and personal values. He tells them they are queens and should carry themselves as such. “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 taught are methods for life. Brown wants his students to be able to use the fight or flight technique to make correct, on-the-spot decisions. Boxing is a lifestyle that requires the utmost discipline. Fighters have to work hard for it, just like everything else in life. Boxing Out Negativity is a teen mentoring program empowering today’s youth for success in all areas of life.
Written By Alexandria Martin
Edited by J. Smith and C. Jackson
Interview: Derek T. Brown on August 9, 2017
Image Courtesy of Derek T. Brown – Used With Permission