Central New York

Turning Kids Into Champions In And Out Of The Ring

(c) Associated Press

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West Area Athletic and Education Center

By Jose Cuevas SYRACUSE (NCC NEWS) – One Syracuse boxing gym is turning kids lives around and turning them into champions in and out of the ring.

West Area Athletic and Education Center has a long legacy of producing national and state champions. It has produced 10 national champions and more than 100 state champions in its history.

Head Trainer and Syracuse district math teacher, Chris Burns’ philosophy of training extends beyond the work in the ring he says “Boxing is just the hook, it’s what draws the kids in…once they get here they learn that they’re individuals, that they can do what they want, that they can be the first one in their family to graduate high school and go to college. It may be hard work to get there, just like boxing, but if they continue to strive for it they can do anything”.

Just recently two fighters, 8th grader Raimier “Lungz” Walker and 6th grader Nevaeh “Peanut” Anderson placed 1st and 3rd respectively at the Junior National Olympics.

Anderson says the training is intense, but that it has made her believe that anything is possible through hard work. She is currently training rigorously with one goal in mind, placing first in the National Junior Olympics next year.  She says, “I’m going to go out there next year and win the whole thing. I’m going to win it all and get first place”.

Beyond the hard work in the gym all fighters are expected to keep their grades up or they will not be able to compete.