LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The fragile line between life and death in Louisville's high risk neighborhoods was in this gym. It was another Tuesday in March at the Neighborhood House in Portland. But one of the regulars wasn’t here.
Me’quale Offutt, 14, couldn’t make it because he’d just been stabbed to death on a TARC bus.
“It was a shock. Like I don't believe what happened. It wasn't him. Someone different. Video was shocking,” said Daylan Sutherland.
The video of what happened next was also shocking: a violent mob of kids reacting by terrorizing the city.
Louisville may be a city, but there's a completely different country inside, a pocket of neighborhoods with the highest unemployment rate, highest foreclosure rate, highest serious crime rate and lowest life expectancy rate.
In the middle of this danger zone is retired MSD Director Bud Schardein, who grew up here.
“They don't have a lot of privilege in life a lot of other kids have to start with. But they're just as smart, just as strong, character's good, they just need reinforcement,” said boxing coach Bud Schardein.
He is teaching them discipline through the sport of boxing.
“This is a haven,” said Schardein. “This is someplace where they can express themselves in a positive way. They can burn that energy, can be aggressive in a controlled way and nobody's going to get really hurt.”
“It's hard for me to focus on things for a long period of time. Boxing helps me with that,” said Sutherland.
Schardein didn’t let them in a real boxing ring for months until he was satisfied they were making progress in every way.
“Coach Bud doesn't like low grades. I had to get that D up to an A,” said Justin Higgins.
“The thing that excites me the most is their grades are good. They carry themselves like young men, polite, courteous, respectful,” said Schardein.
“The difference it made in my life is everything really. It shows respect and that's the whole point of boxing is respect,” said Brandon Mueller.
Sounds crazy, but the reason Schardein is teaching them boxing, is so they don't fight.
“Don't be called out on the street. Don't let somebody try to push you into a fight in an alley. You can't win that way. Be a man. Turn around and walk away,” said Schardein.
“When I walk down the street, people want to fight. I just look the other way and walk the other way. It's not worth it,” said Sutherland.
“Showing people respect on the streets. It helps you be a better man,” said Mueller.
In the three months that we have followed this story, we've noticed increased confidence and kindness at the same time. Schardein says best the part of the progression is they take what they learn home, and do the right thing, when he's not around.Copyright 2014 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.
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