Boxer fights for spot on Olympic team

September 30, 2009 (CHICAGO) Seventeen-year-old Ed Brown spends at least three hours a day at a gym in the Garfield Park neighborhood. Six days a week, he is sparring, working out and honing his skills in the ring. He is considered the best young boxer in the city and a likely candidate for the 2012 Olympic team. but he is already thinking ahead to 2016 as well.

"If I make the Olympics in 2012, I'll make the 2016 Olympics, too," said Brown. "It would be in my hometown, Chicago."

George Hernandez, who runs the boxing program for the Chicago Park District, says he has several potential Olympians training with him right now. He should know. Over his 38 years, he has trained a number of Olympic boxers. But, he says, all of his current fighters are motivated by the possibility Chicago could be an Olympic city during their careers.

"Fighting in your hometown. For the Olympics. To showcase this beautiful city that we have here. I guess it would be tremendous," said Hernandez.

Most of his boxers come from rough neighborhoods and have to fight the influence of gangs and drugs. One wall in the gym is dedicated to pictures of the more than 20 boxers who lost that fight at a young age. They are all victims of street violence. Others have difficult family circumstances.

Ed Brown's mother was among those killed six years ago at the E2 nightclub.

"I'm thankful and grateful that he chose to be here as opposed to the streets," said Hernandez.

And he may soon be in an Olympic boxing ring, dreaming about fighting in front of friends and family not far from the gym where he trains.

Of course, a lot of young boxers will be in school on Friday morning. But those who are not plan to be in front of a television set watching the announcement that they hope will say Chicago has won the right to host the 2016 Olympics.

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