When the final bell rang after three one-minute rounds, the announcer’s voice boomed through the speakers, “Both young men are winners in the ring, but the belt goes to, out of the blue corner, Jasai Kirkpatrick!”
For the 8-year-old from Alexandria, VA, it was a fourth fight, boosting his career record to 2-2. For community organizers, the amateur boxing tournament showcased the sport as a way to keep young people busy, healthy and out of trouble.
Twenty boxers, ages 8 to 30, battled it out in 10 bouts. They competed in three divisions, based on age and experience.
Donay Vines, 19, prepared for what he hoped would be his first fight by watching video of a 1987 bout between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvelous Marvin Hagler on his purple iPod.
“I got in trouble at school and got in a lot of fights,” Vines said. After beginning to box two years ago, he said, he realized that “if you’re putting your energy into something positive, you’re not out there doing other things.”
Lisa “Too Fierce” Cohen, a former professional boxer whose nonprofit Capitol City Champs co-sponsored the event, said she hoped the younger boxers would inspire others to join a sport she credits with teaching kids how to work hard and stick with a task.
“These kids can walk up to any trainer here and say, ‘How can I work with you?’ ” Cohen said. “It opens doors of opportunity for them.”