Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A basement full of hope...

Let me tell you a little story about something huge happening in Chicago's La Villita (Little Village.)

If you haven't walked down W. 26th St. on a Sunday afternoon, don't boast yourself a Chicagoan quite yet. The storefront windows showcase everything from fine ostrich-skin cowboy boots to lace-layered quinceaƱera dresses. People are always out, no matter what the weather--residents love getting together over a big, traditional meal in the many restaurants lining the streets. In my opinion, as a multimedia journalist, the sights and sounds don't get any better than this.

Some of the best stories I've encountered in my career have been found in those nooks and crannies that most people overlook, or that don't know exist. Maybe because they don't have neon-lit storefronts or music blaring from outdoor speakers.

Chicago Youth Boxing was literally built from the bottom up.

Photo by Alex Fledderjohn

My partner, Alex Fledderjohn, and I have been documenting the construction of this boxing gym since it was just a dark, empty basement in La Villita Community Church.

Robert Ramos is head of the effort, and his dedication to the project is unwavering. We were there for the opening of the gym, where hundreds gathered for a boxing demo (fought upstairs, where the church holds services no less!). We also caught him on those days when he'd text-message his volunteer troops for a flyering campaign, and he and his son were the only ones who showed up. Such is the life of a man with a dream. Oh, and he's not getting paid to do this.

Photo by Alex Fledderjohn

Ramos is now starting up an after-school boxing program for kids in the area. When he was teen, he found a better-way-of-life in the kick boxing gym. He wants the same for the kids of Little Village.

The video with the full story will be finished in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its men like Mr. Ramos that makes a difference. Not the politicians, nor the banks. It’s those who actually put their hands to the plow and decide to make a difference. We are in the midst of possibly having the first woman president, or the first African American president which is supposed to be a sign of change in America. What I see as change starts in the homes of America, by parents and community leader like Robert who does it one child at a time. My hats of to you Rob.

Nate Weathers