Dedicated to Gang Prevention
There are many unsung heroes living and working among us, keeping us safe and secure. Many of whom are our first responders, folks we think about only when faced with some sort of disaster. They see the worst and they see the waste. Their jobs are often heartbreaking, involving wasted young lives. Young characters in need of cultivation and guidance with lives out of control. Youthful energy, intelligence and creativity begins tragically wasted and too often incarcerated. How can a potential blight become a blessing? Pertaining to our youth, there is definitely more than one answer to that question.
The Garland Police 9th Street Gym, under the direction of David Swavey, offers a boxing program that has attracted hundreds of area youth over the past 26 years. A recently retired police officer, Swavey has has spent his own time and treasure to keep Garland youths out of gangs and perhaps jail. Our former Mayor, Lori Dodson and I were recently invited to visit the gym on a Wednesday evening to witness the activities of participants in the boxing program. We had been told that beginners in the program would be there, along with the regulars who had already completed the six week beginner program successfully. We had anticipated a hectic scene, only to be amazed by the organized activities that were in motion.
The beginners were working out on mats, doing floor exercises. There was no kid stuff happening, this was serious business. While the beginners group were working out, the advanced group were using the punching bags and sparring ring. We were told that once the beginners completed their six week course they were handed over to boxing coaches. Swavey introduced us to Patrick John, an over the road truck driver whose 17 wheeler was parked out front. Patrick John had been a professional boxer in his Chicago days, and now stopped into the gym, as he had for the past many years, to help coach our Garland kids. He himself had started out as a boy in the Golden Gloves program. That one time pro boxer turned truck driver began his life on the Caribbean Island of Trinidad. That would account for his laid back Caribbean manner that the kids would find very relatable. Mr. John is a very tall, muscular man who would definitely have been in the heavyweight class during his pro boxing days. So good of him to donate his off working hours to Garland kids.
We noticed there were girls having their hands wrapped and participating in the boxing program. We were introduced to a young lady known as “A”, she was slander and wearing glasses, but had wrapped hands ready put on boxing gloves and step into the ring and we found ourselves wondering why. David Swavey than led us over to the Karate area, which now has its own room. The karate program is led by Garland Municipal Judge Bob Beasley. Judge Beasley also donates his own time and dime to the martial arts program to benefit Garland youth. The last time we interviewed the Judge, we were told there was a $10 charge to sign up for karate, just to establish a degree of commitment. There is no fee involved to sign up for the boxing program. All kids are welcome to join both programs.