TORONTO- B.A.D.G.E (Boxers Against Drugs and Guns Everywhere) is a boxing program designed to provide children and youth with a safe space and a positive outlet while teaching self discipline and motivation.
Two-time Olympian and Canadian boxing champion, Andrew Kooner, was once a troubled youth with low self esteem. Now, he is an instructor with B.A.D.G.E
“Boxing has done so much for me,” said Kooner. “My mom was the one that forced me into boxing. I was getting bullied, I was the smallest kid, racism stuff, and self esteem was low. But boxing helped me bring that to a higher level.”
Daniel Roach, an amateur boxer and B.A.D.G.E participant has also been positively affected by the program.
“It changed my life. Before this I was getting in a lot of trouble, and now that I am participating in the B.A.D.G.E program, it helped me change the way I look, my look, my outlook on life,” said Roach. “It is giving kids a place to be. They’re not just out on the streets. I don’t feel like I’m coming to a gym, I feel like it is a second home.”
Michael Savella is the general manager of Bloor Street Fitness and Boxing, and has been working with youth his entire life.
“I went through a tough childhood and I went through ups and downs, and didn’t really have an outlet,” said Savella.
He has taken the program a step further, teaching participants about choices and consequences But most of all, making sure this space remains positive so that these young people develop within their own environment.
“We kind of work on mindset development, overcoming obstacles, a limited belief system which is really important,” said Savella. “People are conditioned within their environment and given stories that are typically not theirs. So what we like to do is have these kids create their own and devote themselves to their own consciousness and that’s why we are here.”
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