South Omaha boxing club keeps kids out of gangs

WOWT 6 News Live at 6:30
Published: Mar. 14, 2022 at 6:20 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Helping keep kids stay off the streets and out of trouble takes a lot of effort - and money.

A local group is giving more than two dozen organizations a fresh infusion of cash to help.

One of the recipients is Victory Boxing Club where wins are snagged outside the ring as well. For the past 16 years, Victory Boxing Club served as an oasis for young people in South Omaha.

“I believe we’ve made a pretty major impact on this community,” said Victory Boxing Club Director Servando Perales. “We’ve had those amazing stories where kids have left the gang life or have gotten full rides to college although their older brothers are in jail or their father’s been in and out of prison their entire life and they’ve turned the corner and I believe it’s a result of establishing that safe environment off the streets for these kids.”

Director Servando Perales has had success through personal experiences. He had a tough childhood and found boxing at age nine.

“I clung to it right away as soon as I walked into the downtown boxing club...I was hooked,” he said. “Because it is an outlet for kids that are struggling with broken homes, broken environments stuff like that so and then you come in and implement Christian values into it and you teach them, and you show them another way.”

About 30 kids every year find this second home where they can train and learn lifelong lessons.

Jonathan Montalvo trains here. He’s the 6th rated boxer nationally at 156 pounds. As an outsider, he can see the impact Victory has on kids’ lives.

“Servando will help them with school, get some tutoring in,” Jonathan said. “He also teaches them about the Bible and how important everything is and how it all correlates and so I feel like it’s really important especially in a struggling community to help uplift them.”

Jonathan’s father George sees the value of what Parales is doing here.

“Quite a few guys come to the gym, and they’ll be here a few weeks and some of them don’t continue to come after a few weeks,” George said. “But you’ve got to look at it this way, for those few weeks they’re off the street trying to do something positive, and who knows, sometimes it sticks and they’re still here year after year.”

When it comes to helping kids, Perales knows he’s part of a bigger picture.

“We’ve got Girls Inc., we’ve got the Kroc Center, Boys and Girls Club just over the road so we’re all in this fight together...PACE, you know we do a lot with PACE as well. Collectively everybody’s kind of putting an effort in,” he said.

A collaboration that produces winners inside and outside the ring.

“We’re here to stay,” Perales said. “The kids have a home.”

Victory received a $19,000 grant from the South Omaha Historical Grant Committee.

Many of the programs go beyond the ring. The kids go camping and take trips to area amusement parks. Next Sunday, they’re going skating.

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