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2 Philly boxers asking kids to put down guns, pick up gloves

2 North Philly boxers providing kids safe outlet to relieve stress, anger
2 North Philly boxers providing kids safe outlet to relieve stress, anger 03:32

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Two men in North Philadelphia are helping to keep kids safe by giving them a safe place to be in a boxing gym.

Former welterweight "Two Gun" Johnny Barr got his nickname from the power in his fists while fighting in the 70s. He found out firsthand how tough the streets could be.

CBS3 photojournalist Brad Nau shows us why he and his boxing partner are telling kids to put down the guns and pick up the gloves. 

"Philly is the fight town," Barr said. "Today we losing that fight, but it's a different kind of fight. You know, it's more of a gun fight. A lot of innocent people is getting killed because guys just put bullets in a gun, angry and they want to shoot people. Nobody wants to resolve, no fistfights, or go to the gym. You can't take back what done did, you know. A lot of people make mistakes in life, you know what I mean, but I believe the sport of boxing can bring people back with the mindset of doing the right thing."

Boxing trainer Marcel Gibson says the more kids they can keep off the streets the better.

"[Boxing] it teaches you to react when you have to react, to respond to certain things," Gibson said. "It's an outlet. It gives you a different outlet to relieve stress, anger. By coming here, you're safe. Boxing has always been like the pride and joy of Philadelphia. So we just want to give back to our kids and at the same time we want to provide an area where they can come, they don't have to be in the streets. No guns, no violence, and it teaches you a discipline."

"We used to have those days when guys would rumble and put the gloves on and shake hands afterwards and become the best of friends, you know, and want to be around each other because both of us could fight. You know, those days are gone," Barr said.

"When these kids first come through the door, they come back," Gibson said. "When these kids hear someone praising them or, you know, just saying, 'Yo, did you a good job today.' You can just see it in their faces. Some of these kids beat me here. They look forward to coming back."

Gibson says the boxing program is free.

An online fundraiser has been created to help the gym. More information on the gym can be found here

By CBS3 photojournalist Brad Nau

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