Outside the Ring: 2Nations1Dream
“Using the discipline and respect necessary in the ring as a platform, their lives are forever changed. Their visions broadened. Their ideas uplifted…”
Sports and Philanthropy: A series of articles dedicated to those who’ve given their all and still give more. Each article will feature a different community champion; no belts, no medals, no ratings… just good people passing it on.
2Nations1Dream: A flagship program managed by the Mexican Institute of Immigration and the Mexican Consulate in Chicago brings together youth from both countries in a well-rounded program of boxing, philanthropy and education. The curriculum was created by Mauricio Sulaiman; a passionate pledge to nurture young boxers of Mexico and Chicago, and bond them together through the love of their sport. And the dream? We all have one. Perhaps for some of these children who live primarily in poorer areas, their dreams rest on our intervention. Good people who are willing to mentor them, give their time, and become role models for the next generation of athletes, students and citizens.
2Nations1Dream is not just about boxing. Using the discipline and respect necessary in the ring as a platform, it goes far beyond the arena into food kitchens, youth centers and homeless shelters, where the athletes are required to perform service to others. Their lives are forever changed. Their visions broadened. Their ideas uplifted.
Why hasn’t anyone written about this program? Why isn’t it being done everywhere? Why are we focusing on negativity when there is so much beauty in the world and so many young people hungry for a guide? And boxing—the respect, the courage, the tenacity—makes the perfect platform.
The final tournament is December 3rd at the Cicero Stadium, Cicero, Illinois. Be there. Support these young people; once strangers, soon competitors, later friends.
This entire program is run by volunteers from Mexico and the United States who receive no compensation. Not just lip service but concrete actions; a tangible and compassionate commitment to young athletes in hopes of making a tangible difference in the lives. I interviewed on of these volunteers for this column.
2Nations1Dream…. many heroes.
How did this all begin?
It’s a program initiated by the Secretary of the Exterior of Mexico, the General Council of Mexico in Chicago and the World Boxing Council, with the collaboration of the Illinois State Athletic Commission.
Who’s on the Team?
Several Boxers from the Chicago inner city and surrounding cities, like Elgin, Joliet and Waukegan.
How do the youth qualify for this program?
Several gyms were invited boxers needed to be between the ages of 8 years old to 17.
What criteria were used to choose the gyms?
After visiting several gyms we decided to use a gym that was centralized in the city of Chicago; the same in Mexico.
Who’s training the aspiring boxers in Chicago?
The trainer from the gym chosen is the head trainer Lalo Beas, he is real good with young kids, assistant trainer is Fermin Ayala who trains a lot of kids in Harrison Park, both young eager trainers who we thought will fit in with young boxers.
A moving moment or story you wish to tell?
There are several kids who have some eye tearing stories, but I notice how grateful they are and they show at every training. They walk in poor and they walk out rich with positive experiences.
Give me an example of a typical weekend?
They train Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and sometimes Friday. They are required to do 36 training sessions. If they miss one the have to make it up. No excuses.
Why do you think so many Boxers have jumped in to help?
If you mean retired Boxers that come in and give these kids tips, like David Diaz, Fres Oquendo, Carlos Cuadras, Erik Morales and Montell Griffin, it is because they see the importance of giving back and they don’t want this kids to make some of the mistakes they made, financially and other in their careers. The WBC has facilitated some of those great champions at the Oakley Gym were the kids train. And others have followed.
What have the guest speakers brought to the table?
We had several speakers, anti-drug, anti-bullying, anti-gang, and several speakers that experience some of the issues of growing up in the inner city and are now successful in their careers.
What importance does “service” have in this program and why?
Giving is prime to the program. We want the kids to feel what it is to give. For example they did a visit to a place called Feed the Children, where we packed food for needy children around the world. They also served a thanksgiving dinner for 80 needy families. It gives them the realization that service is important and that the good in life is all relative.
How has it changed their lives?
I think all these kids have bonded together. They really feel like a team. I sense they care very much about each other, and also they experience the joy of giving.
Tell me about the upcoming tournament on December 3rd in Chicago.
This program that is called Two Nations One Dream is taking place in Acapulco Guerrero, Mexico City and Chicago, Illinois, and the program mirrors each city. Mexico City had a tournament against Acapulco and eventually next year will face Chicago Boxers.
What do you think will happen after December 3rd?
After the tournament taking place in Chicago on December 3rd these kids will be friends for ever. And what they experienced and learned will help them forth rest of their lives.
Why are programs like this important?
It gives kids an opportunity to see outside of their circle and experience the pleasure of giving and it changes their view on life.
Do you think the youth will pursue their boxing careers?
Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the World Boxing Council, visited the kids he asked them one question: What do you want to be when you grow up? And only a handful said professional boxers. We had several doctors, cops, FBI agents. Boxing is just the platform they will use later in life in any chosen career.
Any future stars?
Yes there are several kids that I see getting into the Olympics.
Why isn’t the press covering this?
We have contacted several newspapers. I don’t know why there is no interest in such a great program. There should be. It is such a great program. I guess they are more interested in selling papers then telling uplifting stories.
What would you like people to know?
The importance of helping a guiding the youth, keeping them involve in a sport like boxing that teaches discipline, responsibility, and courage.
How can we help?
Create a similar program like this one and change some kids’ lives.
What do you think the most important thing the children learn?
Giving and that there is hope out there. They can succeed with hard work.
What can we, the public, learn from this program?
It’s a life changing experience, I would like to thank Mexican Government, World Boxing Council and the Illinois State Athletic Commission for creating and implementing such a great program-opportunity to our children.
Special Thanks to the Volunteer Team:
(Celestino Ruiz, Leo Campuzano, Mari Guieterrez, Derrik Ruiz, Joel Campuzano, Yolanda Campuzano., Abraham Ibarra, Emiliano Olivo. Fermin Ayala, Lalo Baes, along with guest speakers and champions like David Diaz, Erik Morales, and Carlos Zarate, Marcos Villasana, Carlos Cuadras, Fres Oquendo, Humberto “Chiquita” Gonzalez, Adrian Granados, Pepe Sulaiman, Robert Renteria, Montell Griffin and many others.)
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