The East Oakland Boxing Association, located at 816 98th Ave, is a place for young people of Oakland to learn more than the proper way to throw a right jab.
In addition to boxing lessons, the non-profit offers info on health and wellness, opportunities to gain leadership experience, and they even have a gardening program.
“Boxing is a draw for many youth, especially young men and women in urban environments, and these youth often use it as a platform to engage more widely in many of our programs,” said Sarah Chavez-Yoell, Executive Director of the EOBA. “For this reason, boxing acts as a carrot for youth as they learn discipline and commitment and as a result do better in school,” said Chavez-Yoell.
Since it was founded in 1987 by former professional boxer Stanley Garcia, the organization has seen some pretty good boxers come through its doors, but isn’t just concerned with producing skilled fighters, they’re also focused on producing good people.
Over its decades of operation, the organization has formally expanded from just offering boxing training to incorporating an entire holistic curriculum, one that is referred to as “wraparound programming”.
Chavez-Yoell explains, “This includes our after-school program in which youth ages 5-13 come to complete homework and participate in activities such as gardening, nutrition and cooking, boxing, karate and sports, art and theater, and more.” Chavez-Yoell, an Oakland native and Castlemont High School grad, says that the boxing association’s education program offers juveniles access to tutoring and mentorship programming, which helps them succeed both personally and academically.
In addition to all of that, the boxing association also focuses on preparing Oakland high school students for the workforce by offering internship and volunteer opportunities.
The young people come from a diverse set of backgrounds. They are often guided to the boxing association by word of mouth from friends and/or family members. But the boxing association doesn’t just rely on its reputation; they are active in engaging the community as well. “We also partner with both elementary and high schools, and our staff often attends health, volunteer, and education fairs in order to inform a broader base of youth about our programming,” said Chavez-Yoell.
The partnerships aren’t limited to schools at all. In fact, Chavez-Yoell notes that the non-traditional partnerships are a huge part of what makes EOBA work. The association collaborates with outdoor groups like East Bay Regional Parks and the Youth Empowerment Institute in order to arrange field trips for young people. And the EOBA also works with some of its neighbors, like Youth Uprising and Pueblo, in order to work on a range of different projects.
Arguably the best part of the work that EOBA does, is the fact that they open their doors and offer all of these services to the young people of Oakland for free!