Gang Unit Investigator Creates Boxing Program for Youth

A Dallas investigator spends his days tracking down some of the county's most dangerous gang members, and his evenings mentoring youth to keep them from heading down that path.

Juan Cervantes says they're a reflection of who he once was.

"I grew up here in the west Dallas area," said Cervantes.

He said he dodged some of the same problems these kids are faced with today.

"Growing up, again, you have gangs around. So it's really easy to get into gangs," said Cervantes. "As young as 12-years-old joining gangs, getting into criminal activity."

By day, he's a Sergeant and investigator for the Dallas County District Attorney's gang unit.

By evening, he's a boxing coach at the Jaycee Zaragoza recreation center.

Two years ago, he started '2nd Chance Boxing' – an after school program for youth.

Cervantes said he feels he'd been given a second chance after being lured by street life while growing up in west Dallas.

He's hoping, with his help, the kids he coaches will get it right the first time.

Reyes Lopez is one of the more experienced of Cervantes students and an example to look up to.

"I get discipline. I learn responsibilities. I learn more about myself that I can push myself to be stronger, faster," said Lopez.

"There's a lot of kids here. They're here having fun, working out enjoying themselves as its keeping them from being out there and getting in trouble and all that," he said.

The students keep Cervantes on his toes. He wants to help keep them balanced and on the right path.

In part, because of boxing, Cervantes likes who he's become. He wants his students to be proud of the reflection they see as well.

The 2nd Chance Boxing Program meets at the Jaycee Zaragoza recreation center every Monday-Thursday from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

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