Righteous Fighters: how boxing can save lives in Chicago’s Southside (Video)

By Iacopo Luzi

40-year-old Ramon Zavaleta is a 4th District police officer with the Chicago Police Department. He is not just a cop. Every day, when his shift is over, he goes to the Community Christian Church and he becomes a boxing coach.

Four years ago, he took an empty room in an East Side building and turned it into a gym. Today it is the home of the Righteous Fighters, a boxing/MMA group founded by Ramon where young people are taught how to box and be respectful.

In the middle of Latin Kings territory, Ramon, with the help of other volunteers, hopes to keep kids and teenagers off the streets through boxing and the word of God. At the end of every training, whoever wants to stay and read some passages from the Bible with the coaches is welcomed.

Zavaleta coaches for free and bought all the equipment with his own money. Another volunteer provided the ring. He hopes that his actions will inspire other people to do similar activities in other poor Chicago neighborhoods.

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A large mural of the Righteous Fighters’ symbol watches over the young boxers in their gym. (Iacopo Luzi/MEDILL)