Coach Derek Brown knows the hardships of growing up on Chicago’s West side. Going by the name of “Shotgun,” he joined a gang at the age of thirteen and spent many of his younger years between the streets and jail. By the time he was in his twenties, “Shotgun” had been shot and his best friend murdered.
Derek still walks the same streets he did as a child, but his purpose couldn’t be more different – seeing his younger self in the faces of today’s children, he’s determined to help them survive and thrive through even the most dire circumstances. Since the founding of Boxing Out Negativity (a.k.a. the North Lawndale Boxing League) in 2009, Coach Derek Brown has taught “gloves, not guns” to nearly 400 youth.
For Coach Brown, boxing is just the hook to attract youth to a broader end: Building their self-respect and sense of purpose through a culture of positivity. Boxing Out Negativity seamlessly combines physical training with mentorship, tutoring, motivational discussions, and community service to help youth realize the best within themselves.