The Illinois State Crime Commission is promoting boxing as a way to keep troubled kids out of trouble. The organization looks for ways to help law enforcement, both through legislation and crime-prevention efforts. Director Jerry Elsner, who was a boxer in his day, says boxing is a way to help youth who may be tempted by drugs or gangs to become focused and disciplined.
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“We have to get these kids in the gym. We have to get them on the right track. We have to give them opportunity, we have to give them guidance and most of all, we have to give them hope,” he said. The commission is supporting the Police Athletic League of Illinois in efforts to promote amateur boxing to give teenagers something interesting to do in order to stay away from problems, whether it’s gangs and violence in the Chicago area or heroin use Downstate.
One boxing club with three gyms in Chicago claims to have sent all of its fighters on to college or the military. John Bitoy runs a camp in Seneca, Ill. with boxing as the main attraction. “Boxing is a gateway to get the kids off the street,” he said.