MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis professional boxer is turning the sport he loves into a hard-hitting life lesson.
His focus is the youth.
It is more than the work, sweat, and conditioning.
It is living.
“I live in South Memphis. Really, people are not wanting to fight anymore. They want to shoot, but I want to be able to protect myself with my hands,” said Cord’ai Green, ManDown Boxing Club member.
It is protection in a city where gun violence is on the rise, so 13-year-old Green chose gloves.
For him, showing up to train is surviving.
“I like living. I want to be able to protect my family, especially because I’ve got big dreams when I grow up,” said Green.
He has NFL dreams; however, his school has no football team, so he turned to boxing.
“It’s giving me conditioning. I’m going to have a lot of stamina,” said Green. “Coach Mac, he’s a really good coach. He’s teaching me discipline, being a leader to these youngin’s.”
It is an example that Macro Hall Jr. missed, but wants Green to get.
“I was a troubled youth, had a troubled past, in and out of juvie, still graduated, still became a college student, and owning my own business,” said Hall, ManDown Boxing Club owner.
The five-time golden glove champion trains youth.
“I wanted to start this gym because I am a professional fighter myself,” said Hall. “We’re getting children out of the neighborhoods dealing with gangs, drugs. The title speaks for itself. ‘Giving the youth hope… not dope.’”
It is a counterpunch to one lifestyle and a jab at another.
“They don’t have any activities, any fun adventurous things to do. We’re creating lives creatively and consciously,” said Hall. “Working out alone is a mind-boggling thing. If you’re not able to get through that adversity, you won’t be able to get through that workout. If you can get through that workout, you can get through that adversity with your life outside of the gym.”
Those results both in and out the ring have been tremendous.
“I know it’s bettering myself,” said Green.
He and the other kids are giving a knockout to adversity with a purpose for a better future.
Hall is also training youth to participate in matches. He has one coming up in September at the Fairgrounds in Nashville.