RED LAKE, Minn. — A boxing brotherhood on a Native American reservation in northern Minnesota is giving young men a place to train intensively and learn how to fight hard.

The men on the Red Lake Indian Reservation see boxing as a means to come to terms with the past and present, Minnesota Public Radio reported .

Antonio Varney is one of the reservation’s boxers. The 16-year-old aspires to go to the 2020 Olympics.

“People overlook the Olympics,” Varney said. “They see the money a guy like Floyd Mayweather makes, and they try to turn pro right away. I’m after the glory. The money comes regardless.”

Dubbed Tony Boy, Pretty Tony and Lightning, Varney has won 20 fights in just a few years. He knocked out one of his opponents in the first round of a fight earlier this year and won the Midwest Silver Gloves title.

Varney’s uncle, Mike Donnell, brought him to the gym when he was 7 years old.

“He was living with us, going through some things,” Donnell said. “I wanted to show him boxing. Give him something to do, and man he took right to it.”

The gym is sponsored by the tribe and free for everyone to use, Donnell said. Most of the gym’s patrons are young men who stop by after school.

“I see a lot of kids that are going through troubled times,” Donnell said. “They’re the ones who are really focused. It’s more than just boxing to them. It’s like church. It’s where they escape everything. It’s where they go to pray.”

Donnell said he sees a change in a person’s demeanor when they box.

“I say, ‘Come on, let’s do some mitt work. Let’s do some bag work.’ When they’re done, they feel better,” he said.


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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