PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Robert Bell passionately speaks about boxing.
“You got to be committed to boxing. It’s a way of life. It’s not just a sport,” Bell said.
Bell founded Knock Out Kings or KOK Boxing four years ago, bringing the program from Michigan to Peoria.
He said the kids in Peoria seem hungry for another outlet, beside football and basketball, to keep them out of trouble.
“And to do boxing here, these kids, I’m just trying to give them a different outlet as far as you don’t have to be in these streets. You want to fight, you know how to fight, come to the gym,” Bell said.
Peoria’s East Bluff Community Center at 512 E. Kansas Street is home to KOK Boxing.
Bell said the program has grown to more than 50 participants featuring boys and girls as young as four-years-old.
Javon Williams, 14, said he has been participating in the program since the beginning. He said he really likes learning the discipline from the program.
“All like the violence and stuff we don’t do that,” Williams said. “We can show you in the gloves. We don’t do that. See cause it’s like the discipline. We only show discipline in here.”
Bell said boxing not only instills discipline for the ring but also for outside of the ring.
He said he wants the children to act like royalty even when they’re not with him.
“That means you’re conducting and carrying yourself as a king,” Bell said. “Whether you’re in the ring, in the gym, outside the gym you’re always supposed to conduct yourself as a positive role model for the people that’s around you.”
Bell said his goal is to have a bigger space and a ring to host more kids by the end of the year.