By Jordan Greary
A youth participant of one of the PRCC’s Violence Prevention and Intervention programs is being signed up to train and eventually compete for the Barracks Boxing Club. Amaris “Lulu” Navarro, age 19, first started boxing her freshman year of high school, training at a couple of different clubs and was preparing to compete in the Chicago Golden Gloves Tournament last year, but never got the chance when the commission couldn’t find her an opponent. It wasn’t long after that Lulu graduated from Pedro Albizu Campos High School and was disconnected from the sport. “I never wanted to leave boxing. But I never had the support to keep going, and I ended up spending too much time in the streets,” says Navarro. “Drugs and alcohol were definitely part of that. It was just a distraction.” It wasn’t until Navarro tragically lost her cousin last summer to gun violence, that she went to seek help for her situation. Having been previously enrolled in case management services with the PRCC’s VPI Department, Navarro had immediate interest in the new boxing program with the VPI team and the Barracks Boxing Club. After some training with PRCC staff and the Barracks coaches, Navarro is receiving a fee waiver for a year to begin training as a member of the gym’s amateur and professional competition team with the hopes of competing in her first bout sometime this year. Navarro says it’s the first time she’s felt supported, “I feel happy. I feel like I believe in myself and can give myself love. And I feel like it starts with being around good people.” The partnership between the VPI and the Barracks only hopes to continue to grow and gain traction, as it plans soon to provide case management services, mentorship, and the sport of boxing to Cook County juvenile probationers returning home to the community. Navarro’s success is a shining example of the resolve that the young people have in this community, and the spaces they are able to thrive in.