Gets Real: Guns to Gloves mentoring program is changing lives

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Guns to Gloves is a Jacksonville mentoring program that’s changing lives. Shenku Boxing helps keep kids from heading down a path of violence through boxing.


Dr. Anthony Mitchell is the coach and trainer. He helps young people find an outlet for their anger.

“He stopped me from getting into a lot of trouble,” said 9th grade student Deangelo Johnson. “I used to have an attitude but ever since I started boxing -- I got rid of that anger.”

Originally from Compton, California, Mitchell can relate. “Growing up in Los Angeles, California, there was a lot of violence there,” Mitchell said.

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After getting in trouble as a kid, the court ordered him to attend a Gladiator school program ran primarily by ex-military. Four years in, he won the Golden Gloves championship with a knockout. That win led to Mitchell being recruited to join the U.S. Olympic boxing team – one of 7 fighters chosen.

Mitchell said boxing “saved his life.” “When you’re growing up in an environment, whether it’s violence guns, gangs, there’s peer pressure, most of all, you can be misdirected and get on the wrong path easily,” he said.

That’s why he wants to give back. Mitchell earned his doctorate in theology and became a case manager working with kids.

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His work and love of boxing helped create the Guns to Gloves program, where kids can “take out anger in a more positive way that keeps them alive and out of jail.”

Ladarius Johnson is a 6th grade student. “He makes us work when we try to give up, and he pushes us to learn,” he said.

According to the organization Mentor National, students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class.

“I feel like I’m relieving all this stress from school and everything,” Ladarius said.

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Mitchell said in addition to keeping kids off the street by spending time in the ring, kids are learning life skills.

“Mainly discipline, defense, to basically respect your elders and never give up,” said 9th grader DeAngelo Johnson. He’s already thinking about his future. “If football doesn’t work out, I’m gonna do boxing,” Deangelo said. “I’m going to basically look out for the youth and help out.”

Hearing those words make Mitchell one proud coach. He said, “My faith in God, in that, I found I was led to mentors that were able to intercept me to see my true potential and helped me to believe in God myself and utilize my skills.”

“We’ve seen them where the ankle bracelet came off, because they were on probation -- or within six months they got promoted to their rightful grade. The biggest thing is that they surrendered their guns and drugs and the gangs,” Mitchell said.

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In Shenku Boxing’s Junior Apprentice Program, children can start training as young as five years old.

Here are two of the biggest needs for Shenku Boxing right now:

  • A building to call their own.
  • A van to get kids to and from training.

Anywhere from the projects -- to a restaurant -- to a laundromat -- at a school, wherever the need is and I’m calling on the call of duty to invest in those kids,” Mitchell said.

The program runs on sponsorships. The current sponsor for Shenku Boxing is Cashout Kings Lifestyle.

To learn more about this program, CLICK HERE.

To give financially: email support@shenkuboxing.org.

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