HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — When you walk into the cafeteria at High Point Central High School, you see something you rarely – if ever – see in a high school building: A boxing ring.
“Throwing hands,” as the kids like to say, is typically discouraged at school. But what Principal Mike Hettenbach is bringing to Central isn’t fighting.
“It’s not just a boxing program,” says Hettenbach. “Our kids need multiple opportunities about being exposed to different things. Is this about getting them into a career in boxing? No, but this may just be the thing that they really enjoy. Then they come to school more, get better grades.”
Hettenbach has been a teacher and administrator for a lot of years – enough years to see the changes school curricula has gone through.
“I was a phys ed teacher and I think the country has gone away from that physical activity and I think some areas are now putting recess back into elementary school but I remember when I was in middle school, we had a recess time – get it out – and you don’t see that anymore and I wonder if that’s a big issue with some of our choices that some of our students are making during the school day,” Hettenbach says.
The boxing program is run by Steven Matthews and his non-profit organization, Punch4Pounds, which he began as a way to help kids stay physically fit. But, as a former professional boxer, himself, Matthews began to institute the other virtues the, “sweet science,” of boxing can bring to young minds.
“What I love about the sport is being able to create champions, to have this idea they want to box, they have this idea they to let out this energy but we find ways to let them do that in a safe environment, a structured environment but we also get keen on the intangibles of boxing, not just the competition and recreation,” Matthews says.
Those intangibles, he believes, are what will help these kids become champions in every endeavor in life.
“In the boxing world, we get hit hard,” explains Matthews. “We don’t pout, we make adjustments. We pick our hands up, we think a little more and so, in this world – academia – what’s the same as getting punched? That’s getting a C in a class. Now, what are your adjustments? What are the methods that are going to turn that C into an A.”
The students like freshman Grayson Jones quickly learn that this afterschool class isn’t about fighting at all, at its core.
“You should never go into boxing looking to fight somebody,” says Grayson. “You should go into boxing learning your self-discipline and how you can control yourself in that kind of situation.”
Principal Hettenbach says he has the data to show that the program is working to improve kids in many way – both young men and women.
“It’s captured a different audience than I was thinking,” says Hettenbach.
See the program in action in this edition of The Buckley Report.