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Sixteen-year-old Kirshawn Washington gets the best of his sparring partner at the L.A. Sands Boxing Gym, in Downtown Los Angeles.Photo by Jason Lewis
Not every trainee is going to be a titleholder, but at this black owned boxing gym, they all will be champions in life.
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
Tucked away in Downtown’s Warehouse District, the sound of determination can be heard.The grunts, the groans, the gloves hitting the punching bag, the tapping of the jump rope hitting the concrete.Blood and sweet are on display as people are pushing their body to the limits.
Some have goals of being a professional fighter, some are just trying to lose weight, and some, as co-owner Anthony Sands said, are just looking for a different route.
“We are a gym that is all about giving young men who lack the opportunities in society, an opportunity to have success outside of the convention of having a good education, going to college,” Sands said.“It opens an avenue for them to succeed with their natural skills and God given ability.”
The mission of L.A. Sands Boxing Gym is to develop a better citizen through the discipline of athletic competition.
“That’s what we’re dedicated towards,” Sands said.“We might not produce all champions in the ring, but our thing is to affect their lives positively, and make them champions in society.It makes them better people and they learn through the ethics of hard work, how to support themselves, how to take care of their family, how to set a goal, how to reach a goal, how to value a goal that they have, and how to value the gift that they have.”
A lot of people who walk through the doors and up the stairs of the gym are there just to get into shape.Sands said that he has seen people lose as much as 100 pounds under his training, and he has seen dramatic weight loss in children.He offers private training in the mornings, which some of Hollywood stars take advantage of.
The gym has been open for two years, and has produced some youth champions.One of the young athletes that Sands trains recently won an Oxnard boxing tournament, and he entered three athletes into the Southern California Blue and Gold tournament.Two of his boxers won in their weight class, and the third took second place in what Sands calls a questionable decision.
One of Sands boxers is already seeing results, in and out of the ring.
Kirshawn Washington is 16 years old, and with only a year worth of training, he has won six fights with only one loss.
“The training is tough, but it pays off,” Washington said.“It’s fun, and it keeps me out of trouble.I used to get in trouble at school, but boxing keeps my mind off of it.”
Washington has a strong support system at the gym, and from his mother Annisha Watson.
“He did basketball, football, golf, all that stuff,” Watson said.“We just had to channel into his abilities.He loved to fight, and he loved the competition.I thought about focusing in on something that everyone is not trying to push their children into.I didn’t want him to have a hoop dream. I asked him what he wanted to do and he said that he wanted to box.”
Washington trains at the gym 5-7 days a week, for 2-4 hours a day.Judging from his sparring session, it looks like he lives at the gym.He had the skills and intensity to get the best of his opponent who he was matched up with this past week.
The environment of the gym changes lives, which has been rewarding to Sands and his co-owner and wife, Sharon Sands.
“It has been very rewarding, in terms of helping people, and becoming a part of this community in terms of giving people something to do, especially the kids,” Sharon Sands said.“We had the parents looking to us to help the kids, and give them a place to come to and workout.”
The gym is 4, 200 square feet, and the membership is only $40 a month.The gym is located at 1515 Compton Ave., Los Angeles, CA, 90021.Contact them at (213) 765-0057, or visit their website at lasandsboxing.com.