From the Impossible to a Miracle
“My life is the impossible. I made the impossible a miracle.” Derek Brown
Coming from the west side of Chicago, Derek Brown is the leader and creator of the popular boxing club known as the North Lawndale Boxing League. Established in 2011, The North Lawndale Boxing league strives to keep youth off the streets by teaching them different strategies to help improve their conduct, all the while using boxing as an outlet.
Brown had a tough past growing up in that same North Lawndale community. Coming from the streets with an unfavorable past, Brown made it his mission to keep the youth from repeating his same mistakes.
“God came to me and said, ‘are you willing to lead the kids on a path of righteousness or on a path of destruction?’” Derek said. “The way that I was [being] lead was towards the path to hell.”
Moving from Gang Status to Role Model
Derek had a well-established reputation in the streets as a relevant gang leader. He also had the talent and love for boxing, and he wasn’t afraid to use those techniques in the streets. However, as he grew older he decided to leave the gang life. Once he saw how this generation of youth was headed down the path of destruction, Brown knew it was time for a change.
“I was sitting on the porch and seen this group of kids throwing rocks at these cars.” Derek said. “Once I seen those kids doing the exact same thing I used to do, heading down the exact path, I stopped the kids from fighting. I sat down with them and asked them if they wanted to learn how to box?”
Being an alumni of North Lawndale High School and a well-known citizen of the community, he took the opportunity to inspire the youth to be better. He started a summer boxing program for the kids of the community and students at North Lawndale High School. He had the privilege of having 81 kids join the North Lawndale boxing program.
Boxing the Negativity Out
However, Derek had a different focus that wasn’t centered around “how” to box. He informed the youth on how to use the strategies of boxing to box out negativity in their life.
“My influence carried a lot of weight, but no one knew the change in my mind.” However, Brown added, “They didn’t know that I was big on education and I was instilling discipline.”
Derek used boxing techniques as a means to help the kids control their anger, have patience, and in many other ways to help them box out the negativity in their life. The North Lawndale schools have Chicago Public Schools’ highest aggression rate, Level 6. So, Brown knew that this meant there were lots of negative factors within the community that needed eliminating.
“Kids were going to jail, in gangs, gambling and having sex.” Brown said. “So the principal allowed me to have the program inside the school and from 300+ suspensions they had [they went to] 13.”
A Partner for School Improvement
Derek didn’t realize how much of an impact he was having on the students. He encouraged the students to be good stewards of the school, and if they didn’t keep that promise they weren’t able to participate in the program.
“Being their boxing coach as well as their life coach, I would connect with the teachers and see how we could help the failing child.” Derek said. “If your schooling wasn’t right, you weren’t able to participate in the program.”
More parents continued to bring their kids to the program, but for the wrong reasons, to learn how to fight.
“Every parent would say I want my kid to be in the program, he can fight too.” Brown said. “Fighting and boxing is two different things. I condition their mind, condition their body, and teach them self-respect.’
Transformation into a Role Model
Brown has changed his life around in order to set an example for his fellow mentees. He has used his past as a tool to help teach wisdom to the youth.
“I’m a married man and I believe that men should respect women,” Brown said. “So I have to be an idol [to them] to show our youth [how] to come into this world and to be a better person.”
If there’s nothing else that the kids learn, there’s one thing that Brown wants the kids to gain from his boxing program. And, that is, “To help another person. That’s my dream.”
Brown has a powerful dream that goes beyond the sport of boxing. Yet, his vision for expanding the program does immediately include upgrading his tools for the boxing league.
“I would like to have a new boxing gym and with that I would do valid prevention.” Brown said. “I would charge the students and how they would pay is with homework.”
Support Well Deserved
However, Brown and his kids need your full help and support to continue and to expand the clearly successful program. The program also needs equipment and transportation for the children. If you want to help Brown fulfill his dream of helping the youth succeed, send all donations as indicated below.
Make checks payable to the order of: REDEEMED OUTREACH MINISTRIES with Memo line entry: REV HOOD NL BOXING LEAGUE DON. Mail donations to:
Redeemed Outreach Ministries
4059 W 21st St.
Chicago IL, 60623