The boxing gym is designed to keep young people focused and out of trouble. One participant found a home there after losing everything in Hurricane Ida.
DECATUR, Ga. — A dreary and rainy Sunday didn’t stop young athletes and their coaches from finding some inspiration inside a boxing ring.
It’s all part of a new non-profit organization designed to keep young people focused and out of trouble. It’s also where dreams come to life through lots of sweat and determination.
Mustafa’s Boxing had a full gym on the weekend. One of the people there perfecting his craft is 14-year-old Jace Charles, who’s used to being in the spotlight.
“He’s a licensed preacher. He’s been in the pulpit since he was the age of three and licensed since he was seven,” Jace’s mom, Angela Charles, said Angela Charles.
Jace started boxing at six years old and at 12, he and his family moved from their home in Louisiana.
“We were victims of Hurricane Ida,” Angela said.
“The storm wiped our house out,” Jace said. “We didn’t have nowhere to live. We didn’t have nowhere to stay, so we were living inside a car. We decided to come to Atlanta.”
Here, the boy quickly found his new home at Mustafa’s gym.
“They’ve been family to us. They’ve helped us,” he explained. “Coach Mustafa, he’s kind of the father figure to everyone.”
“I love having him here with us. It’s an honor for me to be a part of these young guys’ lives and help them. They trust me, so makes me feel good that you’re doing good in life,” Coach Mustafa Meekins said.
Coach Mustafa launched the non-profit organization, providing minority youth with training, equipment, and competition.
“I’ve really got a goal to help more kids get to these tournaments and get some motivation to stay out of trouble, work hard, and achieve their goals,” Coach Mustafa said.
For Jace and the other young people, the significance of the gym goes well beyond boxing. It teaches them lessons they can use for the rest of their lives.
“You don’t need to always have anger out on people,” he said. “It teaches you how to stay dedicated. It teaches you discipline. It teaches you if you want something, you can get it. If you want something, you have to work hard for it.”
As Jace trains hard in the ring, he knows his dedication will lead to overcoming the adversity he and his mom have faced.
“I want to retire my momma. She’s done so much for me in my life. She’s a strong Black woman. She’s great,” the boy said. “I want to help other kids.”
Jace wants to go pro and then head to college and become a heart surgeon.
Mustafa’s boxing gym is looking for more kids to participate in the program and people to donate to it. Click here for more information.