BALTIMORE — Call it old school, maybe even far-fetched, but Umar Marvin McDowell says duking out dilemmas in the ring may be just what Baltimore needs.
"It gives you a choice – whether you want to engage or walk away or feel like you're being chumped. Boxing really empowers these kids to where they can make the right choices," McDowell said.
He runs the Umar Boxing Gym on North Avenue. For more than 20 years, he's not only encouraged to put the gloves up, but to also put the guns down.
"I'm saying it works. It saved my life. I grew up in this area. I came up through the heroin era. There was this organization called 'Operation Champ' that was sponsored by Baltimore City Recreation and Parks," McDowell said.
It's what he says he's been trying to instill in the dozens who suit up at the gym.
It could be a temporary bandage, or a permanent solution to crack down on violence in Baltimore, says Mayor Jack Young.
"If they want to really settle them, we can have them down at the civic center and put center and put a boxing ring up and let them go and box it out, those kinds of things, and the best man wins, and the beef should be over," Young said.
Some say it's wishful thinking, but McDowell says it's a chance to provide young men, whether they're teens or in their 30s, some structure.
"One person, right, with that kind of respect – what if these kids carried those same characteristics in life; that there are rules and regulations that you have to follow," McDowell said.