Downtown Boxing Gym student takes home top honors at Junior Olympics
DETROIT — Downtown Boxing Gym’s Janelson Figueroa is the 2014 Junior Olympics National Champion. Competing in the 145-pound weight class, Figueroa won his last bout in a 3-0 decision. This is the first year he has competed in this division.
“He works hard,” said Downtown Boxing Gym’s founder and head coach Khali Sweeney. “We are proud of him as an athlete, as a student, and as a citizen of the community.”
Figueroa’s father Daniel is a constant figure at the gym, helping his son work out and encouraging him to study. Janelson enjoys anatomy and learning how the body functions. He will be a sophomore at Way Academy this fall. He regularly participates in the volunteer efforts of the gym.
“It isn’t just about the boxing,” said Sweeney. “We encourage parents to be involved with their kids’ activities, and it has paid off for the Figueroa family.”
Competing against 11 other athletes from around the country who qualified for the championship last month, 15-year-old Figueroa held his own throughout the weekend. The Junior Olympic Championships is considered one of the most prestigious in the world, and is the training ground for future Olympians.
“I want to be a professional boxer,” said Janelson. “The gym is like a family. They take care of me, help me study and teach me to box.”
Detroit’s Downtown Boxing Gym works with Detroit youth, ages 7–18, to develop the next generation of champions and leaders by boosting their self-confidence through sharpened mental and physical fitness. DBG has a three-point development program that includes boxing, tutoring and community service. Its mission is to develop good citizenship in urban youth through a demanding boxing program in addition to strong academic support and a connection to the community through voluntary service.