Fighting Poverty with Passion
Several weeks ago I watched a 2015 documentary called Dawg Fight. This film highlights Dada, a resident and former boxer in a suburban ghetto in Southwest Miami – Dade county. After working in the professional boxing world, he decides to build a ring in his backyard, to provide men with the opportunity to resolve conflict in the ring or even start a career in boxing. People from the community are committed to seeing these fights at a small fee. In Dada’s time of professional boxing, he got tired of being taken advantage of and decided that it was better him to take his talent back to his hometown. The majority of the people in this neighborhood are poor and about 70% of the people are unemployed. Because the influence of crime is vast, most of the people who live here will end up dead or in jail by the age of thirty. Dada is seen as a true hero. In fact, he encourages men to put the gun down and fight it out.
Historically, about “a generation or two ago, a boxing fan in any American city could count on finding a professional fight night almost every week in some local arena or club. I remember boxers like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, and Jack Dempsey. Here in New Orleans, you may be familiar with boxers like Wilfred Pastrano. New Orleans is full of entertainment. I believe that boxing is a universal sport that can be used to metaphorically emphasize why addressing our problems face to face, and truth to reality can make fixing our problems easier.
It was a coincidence that a couple months later I’d find myself standing outside of a ring for Fight Night Fight hosted by Friday Night Fights gym, which is owned by Mike Tata. I felt almost as if I was standing outside Dada’s ring. Intense punches being thrown at every end. It was not only the first boxing match that I had ever been to but it was first time that I seen how the mind changes when someone is going head on with someone else in the ring. While the fights for this night was put on for entertainment, the fight in Dade’s backyard was for respect and freedom.
Outside of work, I have taken the time to think about how the activities I am doing outside of my job contributes to my VISTA experience and professional development. I have thought about how boxing can metaphorically be a great way for us to address this poverty issue. What if we put our focus of conflict, poverty, in the ring with all of its overlapping issues like a lack of educational resources, participatory gentrification, and crime. Who would win? Who would get more hits?
While there are always new things being added to the table, this city is dissecting the concept of the boxing show, and bringing in a new generation of fans to support. While at Fight Night Fight, I noticed that there were a lot of college students. The crowd was pretty diverse and everyone was there to have a good time. This event did not show boxing in a negative light but it showed just how much of an impact one can make in the ring when they have trained hard leading up to that match. I’d say if we truly took on many of the problems that existed in New Orleans in the ring there would not be any room for intentional greed.