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'Boxing Out Negativity' Program Provides Outlet For Young People In Neighborhoods That Struggle With Violence

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A community program is actively working to keep children safe in and around neighborhoods where gang violence reigns.

As CBS 2's Marie Saavedra reported Monday night, it is a battle fought one pair of boxing gloves at a time.

It involves a small group of dedicated people fighting crime in a single room in North Lawndale. Round by round, they do what their name promises – Boxing Out Negativity.

Coach Derek Brown takes kids who may have found trouble and introduce them to what they call "their greatest selves."

"He told me, 'Ain't you that little boy who threw that rock at my car?'' I said, 'No, that wasn't me.' He said, 'That is you!'" said Trumale Coleman. "He wanted to just discipline me, and change my life, and that's what he did."

Coach Brown has been at it for 12 years at his gym.

"I'm preventing our children from being the next offenders," he said.

The gym is less than a mile from where gang gun violence killed 8-year-old Melissa Ortega in Little Village last weekend.

"Things like that happen every day in our community," Brown said. "They're fighting their everyday life struggle going out through these communities to fight to prevent things like that from going on."

The program is in demand. It's received some funding from Illinois' "Restore. Reinvest. Renew." program, which comes from 25 percent of tax revenue from cannabis sales.

But it's never enough.

"Organizations like this only get small bits of pieces of resources," Brown said.

Boxing Out Negativity has a wait list approaching 100 kids. All are looking for a place to go to change their life.

"We came into an organization, we came into a group - it feels like I'm family here," Coleman said.

Brown believes the search for solutions to crime can be found by more investing in more places like Boxing Out Negativity.

"It is small organizations like this that make the biggest impact in these communities," Brown said.

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