MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Beating back youth crime with boxing. That's what the Memphis Police Department is hoping its "Outside the Box" summer youth boxing program will do.
Memphis Police Officers volunteer to spend two hours a day, three days a week, with kids ages 8 to 18 in an effort to keep them out of trouble.
"People think boxing is fighting; it's not, it's a sport," explained Outside the Box participant, 13-year-old Heaven Thompson.
Boxing is also a tool the Memphis Police Department is using to keep kids off the streets and out of trouble. Thompson is one of more than 90 kids participating in the program.
18-year old Orlando Johnson also signed up. He told abc24.com his life has changed tremendously in the six weeks he's been in the program.
"I used to do a lot of bad stuff but I'm good now," he said. "I've learned how to respect one another."
MPD Deputy Chief Anthony Berryhill said the program is not all about boxing.
"We're not trying to give them skills to go out here and fight, that's not what it's all about," he said, adding the officers teach to kids the importance of being mentally strong, physically fit, and thinking to do positive things.
"We talk to them about eating well, living well, making better choices, not being involved in gangs, not doing drugs."
The program wraps up for this year next week, but next summer the MPD will be looking for a new bunch of young boxers.