Shadowboxing in the sun
But to Brown's surprise and disappointment, no place in the Lawndale neighborhood opened its doors to the program. And since busing the kids somewhere else isn't feasible for his nascent organization, the summer version of the boxing classes, meeting four days a week, is relegated to the cracked concrete courtyard outside Penn.
"It's a shame," Brown said, sweat rolling down his brow during a recent class. "You've got to work the discipline into these kids, and that takes being consistent, and when we're just outside here, it's hard to be consistent. We've had a lot of rainy days, a lot of hot days when some of the kids just aren't going to come out."
According to the principal at Penn, parents of students and data from the school, Brown and Fitzpatrick had a swift impact on kids in the community. The pair began intervening with children at the school late last spring. Suspensions dropped from 46 in the 2008-09 school year to 13 in 2009-10.
Among the kids at a recent class was a young man whom Brown met several weeks ago at West 16th Street and South Lawndale Avenue. The teen had a gun in his hand. Brown persuaded him to get rid of it and try out the boxing program, told him the gun would lead him nowhere.