Kent couple uses boxing gym to help at-risk youth

Volunteers at Kent East Hill Boxing Club have big dreams of making a difference.

KENT, Wash. – A Kent couple is on a mission to promote education, commitment, and discipline with a boxing club that’s keeping youth off the streets.

King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove delivered a $5,000 check Monday to Kent East Hill Boxing Club.

“This program, with its volunteers and grassroots effort, is keeping kids in school,” said Upthegrove. “It is keeping kids out of crime. It’s keeping kids healthy. It’s making a great difference for our community.”

The boxing club, on a shoe-string budget, has big dreams of helping young people. It all started in 2011 with Glen and Leslie Hamada.

"They had a grave need in this area for more things for youth to do," said Leslie.

“If you don't have a high school education, the chances of making a decent living are pretty grim," added Glen.

Glen, who spent many years as a professional boxing judge, has made it his goal to see the students in the boxing program graduate. Four nights a week, well after the school bell rings, the gym doors open and training begins.

"If you are not prepared you can get hurt," said Glen.

He stresses commitment and discipline inside the ring and out.

Mustafa Ali first came to the program in Kent five years ago.

"I box because I want to be a champion. I work the hardest I can," said Ali. "Success is not easy. You have to work hard for it."

That’s the message Ali and others received from Glen and Leslie.

11-year-old Rustam Gulaliyev is another student who loves boxing, but also says “doing good in school and getting a good education” are his top priorities.

"It is keeping me off the streets," said Ali.

For Glen and Leslie, that is the point behind the boxing club.

"You have less crime, you have a better community, and everybody benefits. That is the whole goal," said Leslie.

The couple says they have been able to encourage three teenagers to go back to high school, and they've helped others secure scholarships for college.

Copyright 2016 KING


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