I Am Los Angeles is a video portrait series created by journalist and filmmaker Joris Debeij, showcasing the unique people and their ideas that make L.A. what it is. KCET Departures will be featuring these videos as part of our continuing coverage of the shifting cultures of Los Angeles.
Walking into a boxing gym in South Central L.A. might seem like an intimidating. But "we are trying to be a second home," says Sauchsee Larkins, who runs Broadway Boxing Gym in Watts together with her father and son. Sauchsee wants to provide a positive environment for the community and wants to keep kids out of the gangs. Sauchsee knows everybody by name and sees herself as a gym mom. She makes sure the kids have something to eat when they come over after school and makes sure that everybody gets along and have respect for each other.
The Broadway Boxing Gym has been around for several decades, and has had champions like Mickey Rourke over to train. "We are an old school boxing gym' says Sauchsee. "The most modern thing we have is a treadmill; you have got use your body for all the other stuff."
The gym also has a lot of old-time trainers who have been around for years. Mr. Jesse is one of those trainers who lives and breathes boxing: "This is my heaven", he says. Jesse Burnett is one of the gym's champions who grew up in the neighborhood. Jesse used to be in gangs when he grew up, but found a new calling when he started working out and training at the gym. He now works there as a trainer, willing to give back to the community in the best way he knows.
The way Sauchsee tells it, boxing is way more than footwork and throwing punches at your opponent. "You got to have respect for your opponent and discipline to become a champion. Lessons who can also be used in life -- therefore boxing is as a lifetime experience."
Originally published on I Am Los Angeles, 2011.
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