Fmr. boxer uses faith to inspire kids in Kensington

KENSINGTON - November 21, 2012

On Tuesday and Thursday nights, inside a weathered building known on the streets of Kensington as the "Rock," you'll find Buddy Osborn.

Osborn has his boxing gloves on and Bible intact, teaching and preaching to some of the toughest kids from the some of roughest areas of Philadelphia.

"If you're raised up in the hood, boxing is the ultimate," said Osborn.

He knows more than a thing or two about the lifesaving power of hard work and discipline.

Much like the kids he serves, Osborn also battled the elements of inner city Kensington.

"A police officer told my mother one day that I would probably spend a lot of years in prison," he said.

At 13-years-old, Osborn started boxing and competing. At 22, he retired.

Just a few years later, that police officer's prediction would prove true and he did find himself behind bars, convicted of raqueteering.

"When I got out of prison is when I basically gave my life to Christ," said Osborn.

He opened Rock Ministries of Philadelphia with just a Bible, used gym equipment and four kids.

"These kids that you're looking at now, their eyes are not designed to take in what they see," said Osborn.

Ten years later and 4,500 boys have stepped into Buddy's ring where they are trained in the core principles of discipline, respect, hard work and the power of prayer.

"These kids, their arms are too short to box with God. You're going to either accept him or you're going to reject him," said Osborn.

Osborn says boxing is the bait to bring the toughest street kids inside.

Then, he builds them up both physically and spiritually to give them what he calls a fighting chance at life.

"You take a .45 caliber loaded gun or you take a boxing glove. Which would you prefer in the hand of a young kid?" said Osborn.

15-year-old Tito Leon's father was murdered four years ago. He calls Osborn his "Rock."

"Having Buddy, the coaches, my friends - it means a lot to somebody who doesn't have a parent," said Leon.

Paris Crawford comes here to find a safe space, a sanctuary to keep him out of trouble.

What's out there that he's getting away from?

"Violence, drugs…," said Crawford.

For Osborn, the "Rock" isn't about building champions in the ring but in life.

"These young kids are stepping up to the plate, saying no to drugs and saying yes to God," he said.

Osborn says he has the help of 22 volunteers at the "Rock" who all do it to make a difference.

Despite not having all the amenities of a fancy gym he says the "Rock" has love.

Osborn says he loves each kid who walks through his doors unconditionally, something many of them don't have at home.

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