Three years after a viral video of Mesquite Police Officer Winston “Blade” Bowen engaging in a friendly spar with teenagers while on patrol, he is hosting a boxing camp at the Thomas Boxing Gym for middle school teens to help them build self confidence and learn life skills.
While the Mesquite Police Department has hosted other summer camps, this is the first boxing camp the Mesquite police has ever hosted.
“I spoke with the command about introducing kids to boxing as an interaction with law enforcement and as a way to build self-esteem,” Bowen said. “I think it's important for every boy to at least know how to defend themselves. It's not a means to go out and fight anybody. It's so they know how to defend themselves. It's a skill that I believe is important to have.”
Bowen got the idea to teach children boxing after sparring with a couple of teenagers while on patrol.
“On Memorial Day, I went out to a call at Hillcrest Apartments, and some kids were boxing. It's an area I patrol. They were teenagers – about 19 or 20. Some kids were just boxing. When I went out there for a noise complaint. They were like, 'Blade, you don't want any of this, you can't handle this,' They didn't know I used to box. So, I asked which one is the champ. One kid kind of flexed. I said give me some gloves, and I'll try. I sparred with him, and it went viral. It kind of started with that.”
Bowen said the camp would allow kids to learn discipline, determination and build their character while having positive interaction with law enforcement.
Bowen secured the Thomas Boxing Gym after volunteering with them during his breaks from patrolling.
One of the younger boxers at the Thomas Boxing Gym, Daryl Thomas II, helped Bowen train the students. He is the grandson of Daryl Thomas with the Garland Police Boxing Gym.
“We learn how to protect ourselves and protect others,” Thomas said. “They learn discipline. They learned a lot. They grew a lot from when they first got here to today. I'm proud of them. We're helping kids have fun.”
In addition to leading students through exercises, Thomas spars with the smaller students with less reach while Bowen spars with the students with more reach. While sparring, he helps students perfect their form and understand how to anticipate an opponent’s moves.
“Boxing is a mind game.” Thomas said. “You can't go in there angry. It helps you to stay calm and stay disciplined. It helps with self-control.”
Bowen and Thomas use the foundations of boxing to teach life skills that can be applied to any field.
Thomas said boxing taught him perseverance, which he applies to all aspects of his life including his art.
“No matter what, I've always persevered through anything I've done,” he said. “Even with my drawing and my art. I still persevere to finish my goals.”
Bowen talked about how teaching students the fundamentals of boxing also helps teens understand how to come to any situation prepared, successful and secure in being an individual.
“The process of boxing, in learning boxing, you learn that you have to be determined," Bowen said. "It takes self discipline. When competing in boxing it's just you in that ring with your opponent. Whoever worked the hardest and came best prepared usually will have the better outcome. It teaches you that life is a competition. You have to push yourself and be a little uncomfortable to achieve my goals."