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Mullinax Ford's Making Spirits Bright: Hope Boxing Academy sponsored by Cooper Foundation

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"Me growing up, it was poor poor,” says the young man in boxing gloves. “I can honestly say, poor."

HIs name is Kalenski Duning.

But he goes by the name "Red".

And, someday, he'd like to see that name in lights as a professional boxer.

He knows it won't be easy, but he's got Dexter on his side.

"Dexter is so cool,” says Red. “He let me volunteer here to clean up and come in and train before cleaning up."

Dexter is Dexter Sutton, a personal trainer, and the guy who also runs Hope Boxing Academy in Midtown Mobile.

And he can see a lot of himself in the struggling young people who come to him for training.

"I'd hoped to be a world champion boxer,” says Dexter. “That was my dream to be. I didn't make it there, but in the meantime it kept me hoping and busy. My dream had more influence on me than my friends, so it kept me out of trouble."

If you think the skills these young men and women are learning here are just for the boxing ring, well, you'd be wrong... because what they're learning is also meant to help them through life.

"Dexter does a real good job," says Carter Rhodes.

He’s hear with his teenaged son, JC. Like most of the youths who come to Dexter, JC wants to be a champion someday. It's dad's dream, too. But in the meantime-

“He's gotten a lot out of it,” Carter says, proudly. “It gives him a lot of discipline, gives him something to do, Keeps him real busy He loves it."

And here's someone else who loves it.

Ambassador J. Gary Cooper is a retired Major General with the United States Marine Corps. He has a godson and a goddaughter in the Academy... and for all the right reasons.

"In the Marine Corps and other services, we learn leadership traits,” says the Ambassador. “No leader has all of them, but you need most of them in order to be a great leader. And their integrity, discipline, responsibility. And these are things learned here at the boxing academy."

And that is why Ambassador Cooper and his Cooper Foundation are donating $500 to Hope Boxing Academy... to help young people like Red, realize a dream, even if it doesn't come in a boxing ring.

“And it's good for my resume,” says Red. “I can take that into other jobs, they know I'm off the streets, not doing anything crazy,"

Apparently, it’s already working.

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