It's almost 6 p.m. at a south-city boxing gym and young folks -- boys and girls ranging in ages from eight to seventeen -- are warming up by throwing shadow punches, practicing their footwork, or catching their breath from a run. In a few moments, two youngsters will lace up some gloves and enter the ring for a friendly spar to practice the skills they learned from their coaches.
Ray Downs DeMarcus Murphy and Marcus Luther in a friendly spar at STL All City Boxing.
Marcus Luther and DeMarcus Murphy, both eight years old, strap on their head gear and get into their corners. One of their coaches, a burly, no-nonsense man, holds a stopwatch. "Go!" he yells, and the two young fighters move toward each other with a boxer's swagger well beyond their age, each maintaining a well-structured stance, ready to strike.
Murphy throws a punch, causing his dreadlocks to fly back. Luther ducks and returns a swing that barely misses his opponent. They back up, do it again, this time connecting more than the last, and again.More »