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Boxing gym in Sherman Park focuses on teaching kids an alternative to violence

Researchers have compared boxing to yoga, saying the combination of cardio and complex movement can help relieve depression.
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Posted at 4:57 PM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-17 19:23:32-05

MILWAUKEE — Many nights you hear the sound of hard hits coming from inside Conflict Sports in Milwaukee. But if that is all you hear, you are missing what's going on at this Sherman Park boxing gym.

“I love it,” said Ameriana McLemore, a freshman in high school and a boxer. “I’m committed to it. Sometimes it does take a mental mind. Sometimes you really have to push through stuff outside of the gym.”

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Ameriana McLemore, a freshman in high school and a boxer at Conflict Sport.

McLemore is one of the dozens of teens who comes to the non-profit gym that opened last year on Fond du Lac Avenue near the District 7 Police Station and the Sherman Phoenix. Owner Andre Sawyer started this gym in the middle of the pandemic because he wanted to help other kids like him.

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Andre Sawyer (right) works with a student at Conflict Sports.

"I was a little troubled kid in spots and my parents were trying to find me stuff to do. And they eventually took us down to the King Center. And at the time, they didn't really let kids box but when he opened the doors to the boxing gym, I was in awe,” said Sawyer.

Sawyer's dad lived in Sherman Park. He would take Sawyer to box at the Martin Luther King Community Center. Sawyer wanted to re-create that experience with Conflict Sports, but he says if all you see in the sport of boxing is violence, you are missing what it does.

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Andre Sawyer, owner of the non-profit boxing gym in Sherman Park called Conflict Sports.

"Boxing, the discipline and structure required is probably, I don't know what you can compare it to, it changed my life completely,” said Sawyer.

After traveling the country and the world as both an amateur and pro boxer, Sawyer is now trying to share the power of boxing with kids in his former neighborhood. For McLemore, Conflict Sports gives her a place to decompress after school.

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Boxer working out at Conflict Sports.

"It helps you even on your bad days. You just need to take some steam off. You are able to hit a bag. You're able to talk to people that are willing to help and give you advice. Boxing is just a different mindset. It's like a different world,” said McLemore.

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Reporter Rebecca Klopf (left) speaks with Ameriana McLemore, a freshman in high school and a boxer.

Researchers have compared boxing to yoga, saying the combination of cardio and complex movement can help relieve depression.

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