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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 29, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

The Milwaukee Christian Center boxers. Back row: David Medina, Elias Lopez, Jr., Abdiel Albert, coach Elias Lopez. Front row: Jose Lopez, Elias Serna

Kid boxers take a punch: Help them get off the mat


Imagine this picture.

A van full of kids, excited, coming from a tournament where they've enjoyed a lot of success in a town about an hour north of Fargo.

You are 600 miles from home. It's freezing as as only North Dakota can be freezing.

Suddenly your van hits a slice of black ice, something you couldn't even see. You slide, you turn over, once, then twice, then come to a halt.

It's a miracle in the dead of winter, but everyone is okay. Seat belts save lives. Some cuts and bruises, but nothing serious.

The van, however, is a total loss. It's gone. And this is more than just a van to the youth boxing program run by the Milwaukee Christian Center. This van is the ride to a dream. It's the thing that can carry a kid to where he wants to be.

Now "why?" happens. Five kids from this program have qualified for a national tournament, scheduled for Jan. 30 in Independence, Mo. The "Show Me" state.

And this could well be the motto for the predicament the MCC finds itself in. "Show Me" the way to get these kids to Independence (in more ways than one).

Show me how this dream for five young men can be kept alive. Show me some love.

All it takes is money. And not that much money, only $2,000. That will get the five boxers pictured above and two coaches to the national tournament.

The five young men in the picture are Elias Lopez, Jr. (who they call Shorty), Jose Lopez, Elias Serna, David Medina and Abdiel Albert. The coach is Elias Lopez, the father of the two Lopez battling boys.

The MCC is a busy organization and the struggle for funds is always its next-door neighbor. Last year, it served more than 10,000 people from its headquarters in the heart of the Hispanic neighborhood. They serve young people, old people, business owners, families, the hungry and lonely and the desperate. They serve Hispanics, blacks and whites and Asians. Nobody gets turned away at their door.

They do God's work, no matter which god is yours.

Karen Higgins is the dedicated executive director of MCC.

"With the loss of the van we are down to just one van," she said. "We can't use that for the trip because we use it for so many other things. I don't know what we are going to do. But we have to get those kids to the tournament."

The boxing program is an all-volunteer effort run out of the Kosciuszko Community Center. Brian Stewart manages youth programs for MCC.

"We have about 20 to 25 kids five nights a week in the program," he said. "The coaches are all volunteers. We even have three or four girls. And the fathers of these children, if they don't coach, they come and watch their kids. The kids range from eight to 19 or 20."

Nobody has to explain to me the way Hispanics revere the sport of boxing. Some of the greatest champions we've had have been Hispanic. Think of Roberto Duran or Julio Chavez or Ricardo Lopez or Reuben Olivares.

These are role models for these young men, and the relationship between kid boxers and the boxers of legend is a strong and productive relationship.

I am not good at begging. I never have been nor will I ever be. But this time I'm making an exception.

Somebody is going to read this who has $2,000, or $1,000 or even $500. Money that you don't need. Money that could really do some good. Money that will keep a dream alive for some kid who may have steel in his fists and love and passion in his heart. A kid who knows how to say "please" and "thank you" and "yes, sir and "no, ma'am."

If you are one of these people, or if you know someone, the number to call is (414) 902-5380. Ask for Higgins, Stewart or Stephanie Sherman. Or if you want to do this online without talking to anybody, just go to mccwi.org and click "Donate Now."

You have no idea how grateful they will be and you have no idea how good it will make you feel.


Talkbacks

jim.owczarski | Jan. 22, 2014 at 9:53 a.m. (report)

The tournament is on Jan. 30!

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ckpt1987 | Jan. 21, 2014 at 6:51 p.m. (report)

I would be willing to help. When is the tournament

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emills81 | Jan. 21, 2014 at 12:20 p.m. (report)

Would you still want to raise the money if these kids were doing MMA instead of boxing?

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