by Gautham Nagesh
WASHINGTON, D.C.—It started almost 20 years ago in a storage room at Lincoln Multicultural Middle School in Northwest Washington. A friend told Barry Hunter the school had set aside a small space for boxing. Hunter, a carpenter by trade, agreed to pitch in, dug out his old equipment, and headed over to share his lifelong passion: the Sweet Science.
"I didn’t go to stay, I went to help a little bit." said an emotional Hunter on Thursday at Bald Eagle Recreation Center in Ward 8. But once he met the kids and saw their need, he couldn’t walk away.
"The ride I got on, I couldn’t get off."
So Hunter stayed to teach the kids boxing, and more than anything, to show them that someone cared. There have been plenty of ups and downs since, from training world champions and amateur stars, to skipping a national tournament and using the funds raised to pay for a kid’s funeral.
But few days could be better than today, when the District of Columbia finally repaid Barry Hunter by opening the new Dr. Arnold McKnight Boxing Annex. The magnificent 6,600-sq. ft. facility is attached to the Bald Eagle Rec Center, one of the original homes of Hunter’s acclaimed Headbangers Boxing Program, which has produced 100 national amateur championships, two professional world titlists, and saved countless young men and women from the wrong path.