MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A boxing event once home to the Bluff City makes its first return in more than 50 years, but when it does, it's about a lot more than the glory of the ring.
The best amateur boxers from Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana will be in Memphis on Friday and Saturday night for the Golden Gloves Regional Boxing match. It'll be held at Hickory Hill Community Center.
“It's so important to bring an event of this caliber to really keep our young people on the right track and keep them from doing the negative that we see so much in our community," Ike Griffith, City of Memphis Office of Youth Services director, said.
Griffith, with the help of Pete Mitchell who runs Restoration House Boxing Academy, was able to bring Golden Gloves back to Memphis. The event helps highlight the duo's free youth boxing program "Boxing at the Pipkin."
It's one of the many ways Youth Services is trying to reach youth in the city to keep them on a good path rather than a dangerous one.
“We want to keep as many positive venues in front of our young people," Griffith said. "We’re losing too many of our young people and we really want to make sure we have positive things to present to them.”
Ticket sales proceeds from the Golden Gloves will go to the Youth Services summer jobs program which pays young adults to work at well-known businesses in the city, giving them an opportunity to build experiences and connections.
“We have 8,000 to 10,000 children apply for 2,000 jobs," Griffith said. "That’s all we have the budget for. It’s very important that we come up with innovative ideas to raise money to keep our children involved in our summer programs in the summer.”
Griffith said it's vital that their office and the community provide as many outlets for youth as possible. A need highlighted with the recent series of youth deaths and violence in the city.
“My condolences go out to all of those families. This is why it’s so very important, unification is so important," he said. "Where there is unity, there is strength so let’s show our young people that we care for them by giving them the opportunities that they most deserve”
Parents and youth can also learn more about the free Boxing at the Pipkin opportunity, set to return this fall, at the matches or they can call Youth Services at (901) 636-6264.
Golden Gloves Regional Boxing Match:
- Hickory Hill Community Center, 3910 Ridgeway Rd.
- Friday and Saturday night, doors open at 5 p.m.
- Tickets $10, can be purchased in advance at Youth Services or at the door