Local boxing club fighting to keep kids off the street

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News 12 @ 11 o’clock – January 4, 2008

BURNETTOWN, SC -- "I like the good old red, white and blue," said Joanne Newman,

Joanne Newman got her start in the boxing ring back in 1976 when she and her husband Noah started the North Augusta Boxing Club in the garage of their home.

"My husband would get in the ring with me with the punch mitts, teaching me how to box so that I could teach the young people the basics, just the basics,” said Joanne.

But the basics soon became a career for Joanne. She jumped into the ring in 1993 when she became the first woman to referee the Junior Olympics. And just three years later, she was the first woman to work with boxing at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

"It's wonderful that I'm able to still do this because I love it so much," said Joanne.

But Joanne is packing a punch in more ways than one. She’s using the sport she loves as a tool to keep kids out of trouble. Joanne says instead of knocking them out on the streets, the club gives the kids an opportunity to knock them out in the ring.

She and her husband take the children from the club on monthly trips. Joanne says it's a time for the students to experience something new. And for her, Joanne says she'll never forget one child's reaction

“When we went to the beach and he saw all the waves, it was just amazing because his ocean was Clark's Hill. He had never seen the ocean; he just thought he'd seen the world," said Joanne.

It's a club opening up a world of opportunity for children and that's one of the reasons Joanne and her husband plan to keep fighting.

"The reason that we built this facility is so that when my husband and i are no longer able to operate this facility, it will be here for the kids. We wanted to make a lasting contribution to our community," said Joanne.

And with almost 80 kids enrolled and the number growing, it's pretty clear the North Augusta Boxing Club will remain a hit.

The club has some bragging rights. The first female national boxing champion from the state of South Carolina got her start at the North Augusta Boxing Club and was still a member when she won.

The club is a non profit children's charity and it's free for children ages 8-18. But if you're over 18, you can still join for a small fee. Joanne also says they're in the process of opening South Carolina's first and only boxing hall of fame at the facility.

The North Augusta Boxing Club is also a part of the Police Athletic League. They are sponsored locally by the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.

In 2003 Joanne Newman was the first and only woman to become World certified as both a boxing judge and referee. She has traveled all over the world to Russia, China, France and Europe representing the US in matches.

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