Organizations: The Sugar Bert International Sports Foundation

Dancing around a boxing ring, perfecting a right hook, can build character as well as muscles.

The Sugar Bert International Sports Foundation, founded last year, works with at-risk, underserved children to train them in the “sweet science.”

“Boxing teaches you discipline, confidence and anger management while you are getting in the best shape of your life,” says “Sugar Bert” Wells. (He got his nickname from studying with Sugar Ray Leonard.) “The training it takes to be a good boxer far exceeds most sports.”

The students come from Tucker High School and referrals from the Police Association League, which strives to prevent gang violence by offering teens this outlet. The kids who excel in the six-week regimen end up traveling around the country to tournaments where they compete for title belts. The foundation, funded by donations and car-wash benefits, provides their gear, food and other travel expenses.

“We have boxers as young as five years old,” Wells says, “and 5 percent of our boxers are female.”

The organization’s after-school program also provides meals and health and wellness education. The world-class training, though, is the big draw. The students meet at the legendary Paul Murphy Boxing Gym in Doraville, where heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield trained. He drops in regularly to chart the progress of his son Evan Holyfield, who is preparing for the 2020 Olympics.

“We literally have the best trainers in the country,” Wells says.

His wife, Lisa Wells, serves as executive director of the foundation. “Many of our teens are Hispanic, and we have a translator on site,” she says. “Boxing is a good way to bridge that language barrier. We just want to make a positive impact.”

Categories: Organizations