Youth Boxing at Chicago's Taylor Park / by Rugile Kaladyte

Every Thursday night, July until February, some of the best youth boxers in the city fight at any one of 21 park district boxing gyms throughout the city. I attended one of these “night fights” on July 23, 2015, at Chicago’s Taylor Park.

I commuted to Taylor Park by bicycle and was greeted with a boxing ring set up amongst basketball courts bustling with players, the “L” train flying past occasionally in the background, an audience of around 100 people, and golden hour light. There were ten fights in all with the weight classes beginning at 50 lbs. and ending with 175 lbs.

After the fights, I spoke with Coach Mason and directed the conversation to the girls that had boxed; of the ten fights, only one was between two girls. Coach Mason explained that he had three girls in total but the other gym only had one girl in their weight class and the other two girls sat on the sidelines. One of his girls had actually been to five matches, but never fought because of the lack of young girls in the sport. He gave me his email address for photographs and I reached out to him showing interest in working further with the girls and exploring how they got into boxing, what the boys think of girls fighting and training with them, and carrying out interviews with the girls, boys, coaches, and parents. Unfortunately, the email address the coach gave me was invalid (I should have gotten his phone number) and I’ve been trying to find him since. During my search, I came across the powerful work of Jason Reblando who worked with youth boxers in Chicago and am inspired to carry out my idea.