Central New York, Community, Education, Health, Non-profit, Sports

Former professional boxer teaches heart health to inner-city youth

Fight for Hearts conducts weekly classes at the Boys and Girls Club in Syracuse. Kids ages 5-12 participate in the workout.

Video Transcript: Fight for Hearts Script

Matt St. Jean SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) —¬†Workout music and children’s laughter filled the room at the Boys and Girls Club in downtown Syracuse as the kids participated in a non-contact boxing class conducted by a local non-profit, Fight for Hearts.

Founder of Fight for Hearts, former professional boxer and Syracuse native, Surg Lukic, said he wants to ingrain good fitness habits in Syracuse’s inner-city youth.

Lukic after his third open-heart surgery. (c) 2018 Surg Lukic

“That’s the key: to stay active, stay healthy,” Lukic said. “To have the kids get into different sports, different things, different activities and lead a healthy lifestyle.”

Heart health hits close to home for Lukic, who underwent three open-heart surgeries before he turned thirteen because of a congenital heart defect. When he was growing up, the surgeries restricted him from playing in any team sports.

“Growing up it was very difficult,” Lukic said. “I was depressed at times. I just wanted to be treated equal.”

It wasn’t until his early twenties when he discovered a sport where they didn’t care if he had open-heart surgery.


“Boxing taught me that when you step in the ring there’s no taking it easy,” Lukic said. “You go in there and it’s the best man wins.”

He eventually fought at the professional level and nearly made it to the Olympics. When it was time to hang up the gloves, Lukic said he wanted to teach others the importance of keeping their hearts healthy.

Lukic in the ring rocking the red, white, and blue. (c) 2018 Surg Lukic

“It’s a big driver for me to help the next generation to learn quicker than I did,” Lukic said.

Fight for Hearts also works with senior citizens suffering from heart issues and holds boxing workouts across the city for those looking to up their fitness.