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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville man is teaching children to fight to save their lives.
He says it's not about violence, but rather about dedication and hard work-- and he's hoping the city will get behind the effort.
Steve Bailey turns children and young adults into champions.
"I grew up in the Portland area," Bailey said. "Being a kid down there, you didn't have a lot of options. We were from the poorer neighborhood, so to keep yourself out of trouble, you had to stay occupied. I stayed. Bailey said he stayed occupied in an old boxing gym at the corner of 27th and Montgomery.
Bailey's roots harken back to the old Louisville tradition that trained greats like Muhammad Ali. He opened the Throwdown Boxing Club in Feb. 2012. "Somewhere they can come into to stay away from those streets and out of trouble,"said Bailey. And there are plenty of kids to help, coming from communities where crime delivers a punch in the gut. As many as 35 kids a day are tightening their gloves and going to work each day.
"We just went to the Bobby Hughes Nationals," Bailey said. "We brought back five national champions."
In the gym, the only air conditioning comes from the outside. The stench of hard work drips from every brow. Older amateurs like Timothy Moten, a Golden Gloves champion, inspire the young.
"Boxing did save my life," Moten said. "Basically everyone I grew up with -- 12 to 14 -- they're either in jail, or even some of them are killed."
The biggest fight in the gym is the finances, because Bailey is paying the bills out of his retirement. For some of these kids, $45 a month might as well be $1 million.
Bailey says he never turns a kid away.
"My goal is to come together with the police department or the city of Louisville," Bailey said.
He wants the gym to become a Metro Parks-sponsored program. He managed to impress Councilman Rick Blackwell.
"I've talked with him about the possibility of neighborhood developments grants, or maybe partnering on some events that come through," Blackwell said.
But Bailey, a plumber by trade, says those ideas have been in talks for about a year, and with no help, his back is against the ropes.
Throwdown Boxing fights out of the old Sylvania Community Center in Southern Jefferson County.
You can visit the gym at 6650 Sylvania Road in Louisville, or reach them at (502) 664-7304.