AIKEN, SC (WFXG) - Seven boys and girls, ages 13 to 16, are the best in the south when it comes to boxing, and they all train at the same Aiken gym.
They train at Hankinson Boxing Gym, and they each hope to become the best in the nation in their respective weight classes.
The four girls and three boys are already number one in the state of South Carolina, and number one in the southern region.
Now they’re hoping to become 2019 Junior Olympic champions. They train at the gym for at least two hours a day, 4 days a week.
“It’s a lot of kids that won’t even make it to that level, so just being able to go is a big accomplishment,” Brittany Hankinson said, one of the owners of the gym.
Jabreiona Hankinson is already a Junior Olympics 2018 champ, and she’s confident she’ll win again.
“Defending my title is easy because people really don’t like fighting me,” 13-year-old Jabreiona said.
The training isn’t the only thing kids are getting at Hankinson Boxing Gym. The gym is a non-profit. The owners said they pick up the children for practice, and train them for free to help kids who are at risk, who are being bullied, or who just want to stay healthy and exercise.
They said their mission is to provide a safe space for these kids, full of the same kind of love they would get at home.
The gym also has a motto painted on their walls and front door that says “Gloves up. Guns down.”
Tyrell Lockett is the gym’s second defending Junior Olympics champ, and the 13-year-old said this gym’s philosophy makes all the difference.
“I’m getting A’s B’s - no more C’s, no more D’s, none of that,” 13-year-old Tyrrell Lockett said. “I haven’t been getting in trouble lately neither - for like four years now.”
“I feel good because I didn’t think I can do it, but now I know,” he said. “I’ve got that in my head that I can do it."
”I thank them," he said of the gym owners, “because without them, it wouldn’t be like this, and I love them for that.”
The owners at Hankinson’s Boxing Gym said the program runs entirely on donations and word of mouth.
If you’d like to donate you can reach out to them via email at HankinsonBoxingGym@Yahoo.com.