James Dixon is the founder and head coach of Louisville TKO Boxing/Top Notch Boxing. Louisville TKO Boxing is a non-profit, and for the last four and a half years, they have been competing across the country as Top Notch Boxing. The gym is located downtown and is taking kids off the street and giving them structure. The city of Louisville has a rich boxing history that has produced not just Muhammad Ali but also three other heavyweight champions: Marvin Hart, Jimmy Ellis and Greg Page.
What is your ultimate goal for the gym?
My ultimate goal is to get kids off the street, get them away from drugs, crime. Get them away from gangs, just like Muhammad Ali, you know, find them outlets. Kids come off the street, they work hard, they get a sense of camaraderie. They get a goal ahead of them and they get to work toward it. Then we expose them with travel, once you make the team here.
How many kids are in the program?
Weâ€™ve got 154 kids signed up in my program in six months. We have already registered 27 kids that are competing, and we have three of the top kids in the country competing.
When did the gym open?
The gym opened here physically about six months ago.
How do you find the kids, or do they find you?
Itâ€™s a two-way street. I find them and they find me. We hooked up with the right programs. Weâ€™re working with Right Turn. Right Turn is an organization with young men that had little scrapes with the law or had some problems in school, and what Right Turn does is it turns them around. They get them organizations; they give them an outlet. They found Louisville TKO Boxing â€“ Iâ€™ve been an outlet for them. Weâ€™ve also hooked up with Jefferson County Youth Detention, and weâ€™ve got kids coming here every Thursday. Theyâ€™re bringing them over and weâ€™re keeping maybe two or three of the eight or 10 that theyâ€™re bringing.
What does a kid have to do get on the travel team?
Dixon: We have a program here called â€œNo Hooks before Books.â€ Every kid that comes here has to get a 2.5 GPA before they can travel and compete. If they donâ€™t have it, weâ€™re not going to turn them away. We have computers here and weâ€™ve got counselors and tutors that are going to come in to help them get their grades up.
How many computers?
We have four computers here. We have two in another office. Weâ€™re teaming up. Weâ€™ve talked to another organization that is a non-profit, 1+1=U, and thatâ€™s what theyâ€™re going to do for us. Theyâ€™re going to come in and provide the tutoring and prep them for their SAT test so they can go to college.
Is there a financial obligation for the kids?
For most of the kids that come here, we want $50 a month. Some of the kids that come here, they canâ€™t pay â€“ thatâ€™s why weâ€™re a non-profit. We have to raise money. The older kids that are 16 and up that work, they pay, but from eight up to 16, we try to take care of them if they canâ€™t pay.
What were the start up costs to get a gym, a ring and the equipment?
Youâ€™re looking at $150,000 to get things up and running here.
To get the word out for people to see that weâ€™re really doing good things. Weâ€™re taking kids, weâ€™re getting their GPAs up, weâ€™re getting them off the street. Kids are getting a work ethic here. Weâ€™re competing at a national level. Weâ€™ve had two kids make it all the way to the third qualifier at the Olympic Trials. Not only are the kids getting off the street â€“ theyâ€™re getting discipline, theyâ€™re getting their grades up â€“ but they have a place to come. They are a part of something. Every kid that walks through the door, theyâ€™re not wanting to be a world champion, but if we want to help them win the most important game and thatâ€™s life. Thatâ€™s getting them exposure, travel, and they earn that; they donâ€™t just get it â€“ they earn it.
How can people help?
You can go to louisvilletko.org â€“ thatâ€™s the website. Our physical address is 104 E. Breckinridge St. Even businesses that need a tax write-off, we are a non-profit. If you want to bring some employees to train, we could trade out. VT