ST. LOUIS - Between the punches, the jabs and even the many hundreds of jumping jacks at Marquette Recreation Center in South St. Louis City, 14-year-old Kanye White said that he’s learning how to be a positive role model.
“To show my little brothers and sisters that the streets is not good for them,” said Kanye, “and to show them the right path and not the wrong path.”
And that’s exactly why his younger sister Kayh’Leigh, who is one of a few girls on the team, chose to follow in her brother’s footsteps.
“It’s taught me how to control my anger and how to control my emotions,” the 13-year-old said.
The brother and sister are one of several South City kids whose coach, Tracy Henderson has brought under his wing.
The coach who gets emotional when referring to them as his own kids spends many hours in the ring teaching them life skills, discipline and giving them guidance.
“If you understand what’s going on in the community and what they don’t have and what they are faced with, so many people want to give up on these kids,” Henderson said while fighting back tears, “if you experience this, there’s no way you can give up on this.”
KeSheara Ross-Eason who is often ringside calls the program an outlet and a safe haven that keeps her children focused.
“When I say to see these boys come in here with a great deal of happiness and gratitude for Coach Tracy, it’s like he’s done his job,” Ross-Eason said.
Just recently through the assistance of Alderwoman Cara Spencer, social media and the community coming together, the team will soon receive extra punching bags at no cost to them.
The group is also raising funds to head to the Junior Golden Gloves National Championships being held in Mesquite, NV.