Boxing finds Hearts in Poverty

By Coach Tim Walker - Legend says Leprechauns hide their gold. Teasing all who seek their bounty. Revealing just enough of the rainbow to build hopes of discovering that fabled jackpot. The more the rainbow is sought the farther away it seems. That's only a fable but isn't it ironic how wealth and opportunity has a way of being illusive to those who seem to need it the most.

In obscure locations where some of the most desolate living situations exist boxing finds a heart to beat in. Where fighting for survival is a way of life, fighting in the ring is only a breath away. A welcomed breath.

When you're poor, destitute and poverty-stricken you can't quite see the rainbow in the midst of all the stormy issues you have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Pot of gold? How about piecing together enough scraps to equal a meal to share with your brothers and sisters. Though many of us don't realize it, this doesn't just happen in third world countries half way around the world. It happens here in the Unites States, in England, in Germany and in any of the other wealthy country. The sad but honest truth is that the poor are always with us and boxing has a way of finding them.

If you ever want to be inspired talk to a few boxers. The stories they will tell you will either break your heart or motivate your soul. Such a story will be told by the children of Birhor one day. If you've never heard of the city don't feel jilted or out of the loop. Birhor is a small tribal community located in India's eastern state of Jharkhand whose very name means “jungle people.”

As I prepared for this story I felt the sense of pride that the Birhor people feel watching their young people train in boxing. “Our children are studying and also learning the sport of boxing. Such things were not there earlier. It feels very good,” said Phoolchand, a local resident of Birhor.

As part of the boxing program, which falls under the auspices of the Dhanbad District Amateur Boxing Association (DDABA), each member receives a boxing kit worth a thousand rupees, currently about $21 United States currency. It contains two pairs of mittens, two pairs of boxing gloves, two sets of head-gear and two punching bags. The DDABA's goal, have the children of the Birhor community competing in district and State-level boxing tournaments as soon as possible.

“I think the village children especially the tribal children are stronger than the city children. I chose the Birhor children because they are the least educated and deprived. I want to help them in getting noticed and bring them onto the map of India through boxing,” says Paritosh Kumar, Coach-cum-Secretary, DDABA.

Boxing is that opportunity that presents results based on hard work and dedication. It's simple. You win, you advance. To these youngsters those boxing gloves represent an opportunity they didn't have before and in an area where the average life expectancy is 38 that is a welcome chance to do something monumental with their lives. With the District's support it hopefully won't take long before a few of Birhor's boxers awkward punches begin to resemble true pugilism and earn them spots on the international stage.

For any questions or concerns please contact Coach Tim Walker at • Feeds,

Article posted on 27.07.2009

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