Texas Connects Us: Sparring for Success

The Dallas Police Department has a program that keeps kids off the streets and gets them in the ring.

A boxing ring.

Officers say it helps them build relationships, while helping the kids build character.

"Boxing teaches you to overcome," said Sgt. Connell Butler. "When you build a relationship, you gain trust."

Butler is a volunteer at the gym.

As a police officer, he often sees the worst in Dallas, but here, he sees promise.

"One day when they become some great person in this world, I can look back and say, 'I know that young man. I know that young lady.'"

The gym's coaches come from all walks of life.

Sometimes they get thrown into the ring.

"I've always had a love for boxing," said coach George Melendez. "The coaching aspect of it, I didn't get into until my youngest son asked me to put him in boxing."

And, of course, parents will do almost anything for their kids.

So when Melendez's son, Angel, asked to box, he went from spectator to ring-side coach.

"And I love it because I've never boxed a day in my life," Melendez added. "It just goes to show you that if you put your mind to anything, you can accomplish anything in life."

That's what the Dallas Police Department was hoping for when they formed this league.

Creating space for kids, parents and police to build stronger relationships.

"People helped me when I was growing up, so I want them to have a good relationship with police officers as they grow up," said Butler. "It builds a partnership."

The gym gives Angel and other kids in southeast Dallas the opportunity to be the best.

They train five days-a-week and if their grades slip, they can't spar.

"No special treatment, none of that," Melendez's son, Angel said. "We all have the same workout, the same everything."

"That's the ultimate goal, good productive citizens," Melendez added. "When you fall down, you dust yourself off and get right back up and keep it moving. Don't ever give up."

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