Lansing’s Crown Boxing Club Focuses On Helping Youth Develop Their Skills In And Out Of The Ring

Feb 11, 2019

Kids build self-confidence and discipline through mentoring and learning "the sweet science."

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The sport of boxing can be viewed in numerous ways depending on how people perceive it. For young kids though, it teaches them self-discipline, maturity, and dedication, especially when they are being trained by former experienced boxers.

Crown Boxing Club in Lansing is hoping to make kids stronger, by training young boxers and helping them find confidence and discipline. Their participants range from as young as seven, and up to late teens.

Most of them start off by focusing on getting bigger and quicker by doing multiple cardio and weight workouts in order to face their opponents.

Trophies lining the walls of the Crown Boxing Club.
Credit Joshua Chung

For the sports of boxing, it requires an extensive amount of training and conditioning whether it be sparring with a partner, practicing combinations on a punching bag or simply running, each one has to be in top-notch shape in order to compete with the best.

Moses Manuel, one of Crown’s head trainers, explains that kids quickly mature when they begin to train.

“They have zero experience and most of them just watch MMA and think this is all a reality show,” Manuel said. “When they come down here though and they see some of the training they have to do, they know it is a serious event.”

Manuel has trained boxers from kids all the way to adults for over 28 years., He has had boxers fighting in professional leagues and military. He said with all of his years of experience with young kids, the best way to build their confidence up is by helping them with their skills and to just keep pushing them.

“When you see these kids that do not have a lot of structure or confidence, that is kind of when you start to lend a hand and say, ‘Can I help you little man’,” Manuel said. “They usually respond with ‘I’m scared and I’m afraid’, so you start working with them little by little and they then become interested and take off like a little firecracker.”

Manuel said that most of them are afraid because they do not know the trainers that well. That soon melts away, with trust as the best possible solution.

“They have to trust you and you have to build up a trust relationship with these young kids,” Manuel said. “You have to get that bond established right off the bat because the average that comes in here is shy and normally most of our boys have been with a mother figure, there’s not usually a father figure in the house. When you give them orders, it shocks them at first because they never had a man tell them what to do.”

Credit Joshua Chung

Marco Schimizzi, a Crown trainer for over nine years, said he prefers working with younger kids because their minds are more open.

“Sometimes you get kids boxing at 18, and they don’t listen as well and don’t hear you out at much,” Schimizzi said. “Little kids are fun to work with because they listen and are more enthusiastic about the sport. I think as kids get older they get kind of hard-headed and become more cocky.”

Schimizzi said through his experience, the reason young kids like and want to box is that it has an energetic boost to them especially at such a young age. Older kids, however, have more motivation and confidence in their experience of training numerous times of the week after school.

“You just need an outlet and whether you have anger problems or whatever, but boxing is a good one on one sport,” Schimizzi said. “It teaches a lot of people about themselves you know and I kinda think that is what we all really strive for. Holding ourselves accountable and I think in boxing you get that more than some team sports.”

Mando Dillarreal, a trainer that has been with the club for over 15 years, said he wanted to fight at a young age for self-defense against bullying.

Credit Joshua Chung

“I think most of them are being bullied and when you are getting bullied you are going to want someone to give you some guidance and help,” Manuel said. “The average kid gets picked on because he is quiet, isolated, to himself and others will pick on you for that. However, when they see a kid with discipline and steam himself where he won’t take that kind of stuff, he is not going to get touched by anyone.”

Dillarreal said that one of the best moments to capture is when a young kid goes up against a much older and stronger kid and wins a huge fight or tournament.

“Seen it all the time and it’s a big challenge for them because they thought they could not do it,” Dillarreal said. “Down here we put bigger kids up against them to build up their steam. When they first match up against someone much stronger, they just see a bigger guy. We teach and train them to do the right things and if they do what we ask them to do, it is a piece of cake.”