Boxing event on Fountain Square aims to keep kids from violence

CINCINNATI -- A boxing ring on Fountain Square drew quite the crowd Saturday night.

But it was far from a simple boxing contest. The event, Punches for Peace, aims to discourage young people from engaging in gun-related violence.

Shaheed Rashid, 17, said he used to fight almost every day before he found the boxing ring.

“I went to the boxing club, and I could fight and not to get in trouble for it,” Rashid said.

Organizer Ramone Davenport said the idea is turning violence into something positive will keep young people from resorting to gun-related violence in the future.

"One word. It's legal. I'd rather have these kids doing something like this versus the alternative,” Davenport said.

Andrew Williams, boxing director at Dohn Community High School, said the sport can be misconstrued as violence, but people often don’t consider it is in a controlled atmosphere.

“There's always a referee. There's somebody to stop it if it gets too rough,” Williams said. “As we know on the streets once it gets too rough there's nobody to stop it. There's gunplay and stuff like that."

The event comes in the wake of a deadly shooting early Saturday morning.

Someone shot and killed 18-year-old Demikeo Allen on West McMillan Street. Allen would have been 19 years old on Monday.

"At the end of a boxing match, they shake hands and go on,” Williams said. “If somebody shoots a gun, it's forever. That's what we're trying to avoid.”

Punches for Peace has a simple message.

"We want people to put down the guns and pick up the gloves as a form of conflict-resolution in our community,” Williams said.

Organizers say they plan to have four events next year to try to spread their message.

"At the end of the night when they go home hopefully something triggers in their brains to say you know what, ‘I'm going to continue to lead myself,' to continue to do better positive things with themselves," Davenport said. 

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