Punching bags hang from the rafters in the C.H.D. Boxing Club, but the lessons offered inside this Northeast Wichita gym are not limited to boxing.
The goal is to teach lifestyle skills, said club founder and certified coach Tracey C. Mason Sr.
Born and reared in Wichita, Mason attended four different high schools, not all in Wichita, and he spent time behind bars in his 20s. His mother called it his unauthorized vacation, he said.
The C.H.D. (for Condition, Heart, Discipline) Boxing Club emerged in spring 2019, after a health condition spurred Mason, now with grown children, to reflect on what he wanted to do. He wanted to give back. He also hoped the boxing club, at 2505 E. 9th St., would be a good influence in the neighborhood and encourage youths to make wise choices.
“I respect myself, I honor others and I take ownership for my actions,” is the club’s motto. What Mason calls his “hieroglyphics” are words of guidance displayed on the club’s walls. “Can’t” and “cannot” are “not words used here” is one message. Another defines discipline as doing something when no one’s watching. Condition is when the mind and body are in tune.
Getting in shape comes first, and participants are advised what foods to eat and what to avoid.
Grapes and bananas are snacks at the club.
Avoid? Red meat, starches, candies and sweets, said Mason.
What do kids say when he says that last one? “‘Aw, coach,’” Mason said.
The club, with free training for youths ages 8 to 17, shut down in the spring due to COVID-19, and didn’t reopen until late summer. To help kick start the club’s reopening in September, Mason partnered with the youth organization ICT Launchpad for the Gloves Over Guns event.
In a community where gun violence raises concerns, “Tracey is talking to youth about other alternatives to conflict resolution and instilling discipline through boxing,” said community advocate NaQuela Pack, with ICT Launchpad.
Research into student suspensions and expulsions found that many were due to fighting, Pack said. In her view, the lessons taught at the C.H.D. Boxing Club are among the many solutions.
Mason wants young people to care about how their community looks, its economy and to be kind to one another.
At a recent training session, before the youths practiced the bob-and-weave, they sat in chairs forming a circle and Mason asked: “Anybody know anything about how to start a business?” Robert Lounds, 13, suggested selling T-shirts or decals – something that would bring people back. “What would be the first steps in making a business?” Make a website, said Davion Reed, 15. Copyright, patent, and trademark also are steps, offered Dazjanae Greene, 18.
Mason holds two jobs, and he urged the youths to think about “multiple sources of income.”
“First, it started off as something to do,” said Greene, 18, when asked why he came to the club. “Coach Tracey, I’ve said multiple times, is like my dad,” he said. “Our relationship keeps me coming back here,” he said.
Youth training hours at C.H.D. are 5 to 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Adult training hours are 6 to 8 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays, and 12:30 to 2 p.m. Saturdays. There is no fixed charge for adults, but donations are welcomed.
Mason can be reached at 702-742-5017, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.