A native of northeast Washington, D.C. and now living in Anacostia, Deonte is excelling in his studies at UDC and BBBP is proud to have awarded him a scholarship to help cover the cost of books. Deonte trains at Diamonds N The Ruff and says that boxing has helped him develop focus and discipline in all aspects of his life. During his participation in Belfast-Beltway programs, Deonte has traveled to Northern Ireland twice and was an honored guest at the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day parade in Holyoke, Mass.
Malik lives in Anacostia and trains at Limelite gym in Columbia Heights. The coaches at Limelite help the youth boxers with their schoolwork, and make sure all homework is completed before training begins. Malik is a two-time Junior Olympic boxing champion and two-time U.S.A. National boxing champion, and is currently training for the 2016 Olympics.
At 14 years of age Lewis Napier of Coleraine is an accomplished boxer and enthusiastic student. Lewis came to the U.S. as part of the Belfast-Beltway exchange program in 2014 and says, “I loved the exchange program because I may never get an experience like that again. It was made all the better by sharing it with a great bunch of guys. I made some awesome friends and have some amazing memories. It was a very full, well-planned week and we had something different to do every day. Belfast-Beltway Boxing Project: in one word – awesome!”
Hailing from District Heights, Maryland, Adam has participated in BBBP programs since 2009. He is now a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps. Once he retires from the military, Adam plans to pursue a degree in sports medicine. Adam trains at the Diamonds N The Ruff gym in District Heights. The coaches at Diamonds also place a premium on education, and make homework a priority for youth in the gym.
Coming out of St. Paul’s Boxing Club in West Belfast, Brendan Irvine is a highly inspirational young man who dedicates his free time to working in the club, training and mentoring the younger members. Brendan has won eight Irish titles and has represented Antrim, Ulster and Ireland. He participated in the 2014 Belfast-Beltway exchange program and says, “The program is brilliant! I enjoyed every minute of it and so did all my teammates. It has been an amazing experience.”
Lee, 22, hails from Limerick, Ireland, which is a tough town. After a series of family tragedies he started getting in trouble. Friends brought him back from the brink and led him to the Corpus Christi Boxing Club in Limerick.“He’s a brilliant boxer, and he’s so humble in the club with the lads,” said Declan Fitzgerald, his 52-year-old coach, who drives a delivery truck by day and spends six nights a week working with young boxers. Corpus Christi is in a part of town beset by drugs, turf wars and high unemployment. Boxing is an outlet, and any kid who wants to train there is welcome.
“The lads will come in and say they need to get off the corner,” Fitzgerald said. “They say that if they don’t get off the corner, they’re going to land in prison.”
Reeves says the club saved him. He’s a few credits short of his high school diploma and has worked as a cashier and a bricklayer. Now, he’s training full time, hoping to make a career with his fists.
“Boxing’s everything for me,” he said. “It’s the only thing I’ve really excelled at in life. I love being able to stand out in one area.”
Photo by Miriam Lomaskin.