The successful staging of its second boxing event further showcases the social relevance of the Iron Fist Gym, and the potential role that the facility can play in the lives of the Territory’s youths.
The Iron Fist Gym is the only boxing gym in the Territory and it is overseen by Julan Brown who wears multiple hats, key of which is boxing coach and events coordinator.
The Gym, which is haven for both boxing enthusiasts and other youths encouraged by the sports, inspired attention and support from many in the community. One of them is businessman, and Commissioner of the Teaching Service Commission, Mr. David Penn.
In an interview with The Island Sun newspaper Mr. Penn explained that after noticing various impressive factors of the Gym’s social outreach he couldn’t help supporting the program.
Mr. Penn who was a sponsor of the boxing event that was held at the UPs Cineplex Ballroom on 18 April said that he was interested to learn of the mentoring approach that Mr. Brown extends to youths in the program.
He said that the program has had a significantly positive impact, and stated that both the Magistrate’s Court and the High Court of the Virgin Islands are using his program at the Iron Fist Gym as an option to incarceration for first time offenders in the ‘At Risk’ age group of between 13 -17.
“The Iron Fist Boxing Gym began as a private venture and became recognized by the East End Long Look Community for the effect the program was having on the disadvantaged and otherwise challenged, or troubled youth…The results have been inspiring,” Mr. Penn said.
It was announced that the Government through the Minister for Education and Culture, Hon. Myron Walwyn found funds to assist in purchasing much needed basic equipment for the gym. In fact, the Ministry of Education has been supportive of the Gym.
“I am particularly heartened by the hugely positive results which have been reported to me regarding the effect Julan’s program has had on violence…I therefore encourage all in our community to lend whatever support they can to this worthy asset that has blossomed in our midst. A tool to effectively catch those of our youth who are in danger of falling between the cracks. We as a society need to take responsibility for not just the great, and the good, but even more so for the disadvantaged youth who face challenges the likes of which are quite daunting. The youth are our future, we have to do all we can to instill hope, self esteem and pride of self in them all,” the Commissioner for Education stated.
He added that the Gym is more than just a boxing site, but more so a place where reform can begin: “Distinction between the sport of boxing and the larger good of improving and strengthening the social fabric of youth at risk in this community. Recognition of this fundamental principle attracted many of us including myself and family to the concept that Julan Brown presents in the Iron Fist Gym program and led us to lend our support to this dream for the Territory,” Mr. Penn noted.