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Over the next month I will be spotlighting the four Denver non-profit organizations Maroon Bell Outdoor is supporting. Today we are looking at the Denver Police Brotherhood. This is a 501C (3) whose sole mission is to help at risk youth learn how to achieve their greatest potential through boxing. CC Edwards a retired police officer started this program in 1996 and has turned out numerous golden glove champions, Olympic hopefuls and educated, successful young men.
Last Thursday was an 80-degree Colorado afternoon and the first time I had visited the gym. After missing my turn and driving through some formidable traffic near the Santa Fe warehouse district I came upon an antique Baptist church standing next to an old rusted sign, “ Denver Police Brotherhood”. I parked my car in an empty dirt lot next to the gym and tried two locked doors before finding an open one in the back of the building. My friend CC a retired police officer was standing just inside carefully studying his phone when a father of a program participant greeted me. We spoke briefly as I walked through the back door and he shared with me his desire to coach at the gym. I then said hi to CC and he immediately showed me what he was looking for in his phone, a picture of a program participant, dressed in full marine attire on a battleship; “look Jeremy, this was a boxer at this gym who just graduated from basic training to become a marine”.
CC and I made our way up six stairs into the church, which was now a gym. An old boxing ring dominated the space and had been erected in the middle of the 600 square foot area. Donated bags with patched holes hung around the outside perimeter, art from a program participant decorated the walls, and an old treadmill, two speed bags, and some weights were placed on the east side of the ring.
The gym was packed with boxers sticking and moving, bobbing up and down, punching bags, doing pushups, sit-ups, jogging on a treadmill, and receiving instruction. The gym was filled with a sort of ambient glow from fluorescent lights mixed with the sun pouring through old stained glass windows and an open door I had entered through. It felt warm the way a Colorado afternoon feels in the fall and I could hear the sound of a hundred gloves smacking and popping old bags. Every two minutes a bell would ring and everyone would move to another area. This place was like a step back in time to the 1920s. The space was not about expensive brass bells, shoes and equipment. It was designed out of necessity. It was built for young people as a bridge over an opportunity gap. This gym was about achieving your greatest potential as a human being, nothing else.
CC asked me to walk around and introduce myself so I began talking to the guys. I met two brothers from Los Angeles who had been in the program for 15 years. Both had seen enormous success in boxing and education. Their achievement's included golden glove wins, placing at the Olympic trials, and both were getting ready to graduate from college. Another boxer I talked with had also been with the program for over ten years was midway through college, won the 2013 golden gloves and had recently received an award from the community college of Denver inducting him into the “National Society of Leadership and Success”. Everyone I met was professional, kind and shook my hand. I met coaches who had spent 40 years in corporate America and participants who had trained to become boxing judges and volunteered full weekends to cleaning the gym.
During my 45-minute visit and after shaking a few hands I don’t pretend to know the stories and challenges these folks endured to achieve so much success; however, I did witness hard working young people on a Thursday afternoon fighting for themselves. I witnessed a group of adults volunteering an enormous amount of time and money to be there, fighting side my side with these young men and women. As we move forward our goal is to learn more, understand more, and help this organization assist more young people in the future.
If you want to get involved with the Denver Police Brotherhood in any capacity you can email me at JeremyDougherty@MaroonBell.Com and I will get you in touch with CC Edwards. They do not have a website currently but you can find them on Facebook @DenverPoliceBrotherhood