Boxing is a way of life for two West Side Academy students, sophomore Kewon Burns and freshman Albert Ballard. The two of them have been very successful at balancing their academic lives and being active outside of the school walls.

Burns, who has been boxing since 2015, works out at Kronk Boxing Gym in Detroit. He credits his grandfather, Ali Hakeem, with sparking his interest in the sport. His grandfather was also a boxer; one day he decided one day to take his grandson to the gym with him. This ended up being a decision that changed Burn’s life.

Burns said, “I like to fight, so it seemed like a good next step to try boxing. The best thing about boxing is getting in the gym and working hard to be my best.”

Aside from the athletic benefits of the sport, Burns also sees the connection between boxing and its connection to life.

“In the gym, it’s a whole other family. It has helped me to stay out of trouble and stay focused on my future goals,” said Burns.

Some of Burns’s most important achievements are winning the Power Gloves Championship in 2016 and the Golden Gloves championship in 2017.

Albert Ballard had a different reason for getting into boxing. When he was seven- years-old, he got hit by a car while crossing the street. He felt blessed to not have any major damage done to him and he managed to run all the way home after the accident.

“After the accident, it made me feel indestructible. If I could walk away from that with only minor scratches, what could I do in the boxing ring?” said Ballard.

Since then, he has been training with coach Mouchettee Muhammad out of Hands On Boxing in Detroit, which is owned by Faruq Muhammad. He credits his coach and boxing with helping him remain disciplined and respectful.

“Boxing keeps me from going out and doing things I’m not supposed to do. I like to succeed, and although school isn’t always the best for me, I enjoy being an athlete. I like to see people succeed and I want to be a success myself” said Ballard.

He has won several awards over the past couple years. Two of his biggest accomplishments are winning the Silver Gloves Nationals in 2016 and the Golden Gloves Championships in 2017.