Can you help reduce urban violence by teaching young people how to fight? Frank Porter, head of Milwaukee’s Ace Boxing Club, thinks so.
“If they have negative energy that they often find in the streets, they come in here and work it out,” says Porter. “And have some structure and learn how to handle their anger management.”
Porter knows firsthand the negative energy found in the streets. “I was a street person. That’s why these kids can relate to me.” recalls Porter. “Everybody knows what goes on in the street life. You become an alcoholic, drug addict, drug dealer.”
Tired of that life, Porter eventually reformed and cleaned up. Fortunately he had a welcoming home at the boxing club, founded and run by his father, Del Porter. Porter remembers the day he reached out to his dad. “I said, ‘Dad, as of today, can you and I start over with a new father-son relationship?’”
Del happily welcomed Frank back into his life and the gym he had founded. Father and son worked closely together until Del’s death in 2008.
“I’m proud to carry on his legacy. And proud to carry on the mission,” says Frank. That mission is defined by Del Porter’s saying, “It’s better to sweat in our gym than bleed in the streets.”
And sweat they do. Every weekday afternoon, kids from the gym’s South Milwaukee neighborhood show up for instruction in footwork, punching, and conditioning led by Porter and his volunteers. There’s no charge for students and no one is profiting from their labor.
“My dad wasn’t out to make money,” says Porter. “Neither am I. Neither are the volunteers here. We’re out to make memories.”
The Porter family has been running Ace Boxing Club since 1960, providing plenty of time to make memories and build a legacy.
“When you build a legacy, when you look down, when you pass, when we’re away from this Earth a hundred years from now, you want to look down with your creator, look how many people I reached out to. That’s your legacy.”