JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A boxing company that has been in Johnson City for years has found a new home for the LXI Youth Outreach Program. Boxing classes will soon be held in Beeson Hall by Kiwanis Park.
LXI is an after-school program, founded by Johnson City native Damon Johnson.
“Boxing is huge for kids, especially kids that’s been in a little trouble,” said Johnson. “It teaches them discipline, teaches them how to lose, teaches them how to win, teaches them how to be graceful and all of that. Teaches them how to work hard.”
Kenny McDermott is a boxing coach there. He said teaching fundamentals of boxing can also help with life lessons.
“Life knocks you down sometimes and it can be real tough,” said McDermott. “So, with boxing, boxing teaches that. Okay, you’re going to get hit. Sometimes you might even get knocked down. It’s all about getting up, all about trying to pursue your goals and getting to the next step in life. “
McDermott said boxing can help with cross training for other sports as well. His stepson, Benji Brown, who plays football and soccer, takes boxing classes in the program.
“I think it makes me stronger and faster, and it makes me get more in shape for other sports I would like to play,” said Brown.
Gabe Miller says he’s known McDermott for over a year now.
“He’s gotten me interested in the sport that I play every day,” said Miller. “Very nice person. And boxing is a big part of my life now.”
Miller said he’s made progress since he’s been boxing.
“Definitely helped me get stronger,” said Miller. “And I was about weighing 135 when I started. Then I got down to 120. Now I’m about back at that.”
Trevor Hensley said he played basketball his whole life. He made the transition to boxing more recently.
“Got to the end of basketball, missed competition and I always loved watching boxing,” said Hensley. “So, then there’s finally my chance to take it and meet the guys.”
He said his favorite part about being in this program is the community aspect.
“There’s three fantastic coaches here,” said Hensley. “Getting their wisdom every day. And even if it’s not always wisdom on how to throw a punch, it can be something going on in life. All these guys have lived a long life, and I love getting every part of it.”
Jose Ramirez started boxing at age seven when he moved from Puerto Rico to Johnson City. His brother and he started boxing with the company when their parents were looking for a sport for them to try.
“I had eight amateur fights, and I was on and off after that,” said Ramirez. “But then I just came back.”
Ramirez said he hopes to fight professionally.
“It motivates me to keep going and everything,” said Ramirez “It’s not just boxing just as a sport, it motivates me to keep going in life, keep pushing myself and in a positive way.”
Kemper Johnson is a professional boxer that also trains at the gym.
“A lot of these kids are overlooked,” said Johnson. “So, we’re able to give them something, like maybe they weren’t able to compete in a team sport. Maybe they weren’t good enough, maybe their grades weren’t well enough in school. Maybe anything could have happened in their life. I’ve been there, so I’m able to relate to the kids.”
Damon Johnson says that LXI is a safe place for kids to come and heal from trauma.
“It’s been a lot of trauma going on with school shootings and COVID,” said Johnson. “It’s been a lot of trauma. What goes on in the household of some of these kids is just traumatic. So we want to be a safe place for those kids to come and be themself and be able to release some of their trauma, start dealing with that pain and start healing through that pain.”
Before they move to Beeson Hall, boxing training takes place at the LXI building on 1006 South Broadway street in Johnson City.
Damon Johnson said they will offer more classes than just boxing in Beeson Hall. Anything from yoga, wrestling, and even MMA is an option. He also says adults, and parents along with their kids, can train there as well.
You can visit the LXI website to learn how to get involved in the boxing classes.