Roanoke, VA

Champs Gym gives at risk teens an alternative to street life

Cheryl E Preston

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Boxing at Champ's GymScreenshot WSLS 10 News video

There is hope for troubled local youth

Roanoke, Virginia is currently listed as number 4 on the list of the highest crime areas in Virginia. Gun violence has increased and not a week has gone by this year without a report of some type of disturbance related to teens and young adults. They say it takes a village and one man is doing his part to keep young people off the streets.

Coach La’Torie Woodbury, thru Champs Gym at1013 Jamison Ave Southeast, is using boxing. to keep "at-risk youth off city streets" out of trouble. Woodberry works part-time as an electrical contractor and is also an ex-fighter. He owns Boxing and Brawling LLC, the business that operates a youth boxing program at the gym called Boxfit.

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Champs Gym operator WoodburyScreenshot WSLS 10 Nres

A safe space for youth

Woodbury's goal is to keep the young people out of trouble by having them "pick up boxing gloves instead of guns." He emphasizes the importance of working through issues in the boxing ring rather than street violence and says the teens he works with have varied issues, One young ma was distraught over the death of his mother and was not eating or talking. Other young people have been clients of a local mental health facility.

The coach also offers free lunch but admits that maintaining the building and running the services is expensive and the families that the facility supports are not able to financially support the gym. Woodbridge says he has 26 kids and only a few families who donate but it'd not enough. He has PayPal but is not receiving regular donations and looking for ways to fund and keep the program running. He says he would never consider asking 17 and 18-year-olds to pay.

As a side note, the original Champs Gym in downtown Roanoke was named for local boxing legend r Ernest "Champ" Cabbler.

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I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA
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