Founder of Downtown Boxing for kids up for CNN Hero of the Year award

Posted at 3:58 PM, Nov 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-07 17:13:40-05

The founder and CEO of Detroit’s Downtown Boxing gymwas nominated as one of ten CNN’s Hero of the Year.

Khali Sweeney founded the non-profit gym and academic center in 2007 as a way to reach children in Detroit’s toughest neighborhoods.  The program is free and serves more than 150 children from ages 8-18.

The children are picked up five days a week and bussed to the center where they learn not only heart and truth in athletics, but are offered educational classes that run the gamut from coding to culinary arts.

And a real point of pride for Sweeney is that every student admitted to the program has gone on to graduate high school.

“I’m like a father to a lot of kids, so when they go across the stage, I feel like I’m going across the stage with them because that’s something that me and my peers didn’t get a chance to go across the stage because we made bad choices,” said Sweeney. “We didn’t have the role models; we didn’t have the guidance.”

Sweeny says he draws from his life experiences and wants better for children who are in danger of falling through the cracks.

"I couldn't read or write until I was 29 years old,” he said. “I was passed along. I've been shot. I've been stabbed. I've watched a lot of my friends die at a young age."

Currently, there are more than 850 students on the waiting list to join the program. If Sweeney is selected for the top honor of CNN Heroes, he can receive an additional $100,000 for his organization.


The hero with the most votes wins.

You can vote up to 30 times a day using email, Facebook and Facebook messenger.

Voting ends December 12.


Title Boxing Club in Macomb is also holding a fundraiser for Downtown Boxing. Click here for info. 

Dino's Lounge on Woodward Avenue will be hosting a fundraiser Friday, Nov. 10 at 6:30. For more information, call Dino's Lounge.