South Mpls. training center a haven for boxing, health
Sankara Frazier is the founder and executive director of Circle of Discipline, a boxing training facility located in South Minneapolis established in 1993. Looking to pass on the opportunity to learn about and practice boxing, Frazier says the concept for Circle of Discipline (COD) came to him in a dream that became a reality.
As a youth Frazier was involved in amateur boxing at Pillsbury House and Phyllis Wheatley Community Center. He learned the art of boxing from Ed Lacey, Danny Davis, and his father, Bishop Stanley Neil Frazier.
Civil rights activist and amateur boxing coach Harry Davis had an early influence on Frazier. Later on, Frazier trained at local gyms like the Lake Street Gym and 7th Street Gym under the tutelage of Bob Porter and Gilbert Mitchell.
The first physical location of COD was on 37th Street and Chicago Avenue South in a 900-square-foot storefront building in Minneapolis. Since then, COD has moved to the Powderhorn neighborhood.
Putting bad health on the ropes
COD currently offers programs centered on boxing but promotes overall health and wellness for youth and families as well. Almost a decade ago, COD established a partnership with the Brooklyn Park Police in an effort to introduce the “Punches with a Purpose” program. The goal is to help youth and adults in their area.
COD’s website has engaging and informative content that highlights various, health-centered programming. They offer 360 Advocacy Services, Lifestyle FIT, and testimonials. The goal is to provide youth and families with proper support. COD is focused on ensuring the overall health of all participants, says Frazier.
He sees a lot of youth gravitating toward and utilizing the gym, many seeking guidance. “My advice for our youth in today’s climate is humble yourself and learn to listen. This in itself is difficult when we are trying to depict ourselves as strong.
“False pride will cause you to crash and burn, not always in the literal sense, but you can lose out on a lot of opportunities,” says Frazier. “You blocked yourself.” Humility and being open-minded to criticism may help individuals become successful, he adds.
Frazier also emphasizes that individuals, especially youth, should be mindful of how they engage with technology. “Use social media with common sense. I don’t believe that there is any replacement for human interaction,” says Frazier.
On what motivates him, Frazier says, “There are so many answers: Love for my family, for the people. My motivation comes from the fact that I don’t know how to quit. To me, it’s a way of life.”
Frazier is now classified as a Level IV International USA Boxing Coach and is certified through the United States Olympic Committee as well as USA Boxing. “I am a master in the art,” he says.
He has trained winning fighters. COD’s Jamal “Shango” James currently holds the title of Minnesota Welterweight Champion and is ranked third in the World Boxing Association.
COD’s back-to-school support
Aside from professional boxing, James gives back to the community. Most recently, he organized an event at the COD that offered free backpacks, school supplies and haircuts for kids.
COD places an emphasis on social responsibility and partnering with like-minded people who share their vision. Three upbeat and skilled barbers from Goodfellas Barber Studio in Richfield came to the rescue by providing complimentary haircuts to the youth. The pop-up barbershop operated out of the COD gym. A barber named Hugo at the back-to-school event said, “I’m glad the COD allowed us to come in and do this.”
The stylish barbers were attentive, cautious and meticulous as they provided fresh haircuts for the youth. The young clients were quiet. Nap time came earlier than expected for some.
The COD gym created a cool atmosphere comprised of colorful boxing gear that dangled from the ceiling, a boxing ring, shiny accolades, and a classic photo of Muhammad Ali.
The COD also helped promote the boxing match between Erislandy Lara and Ramon Alvarez held at the Minneapolis Armory in downtown in August. Two fighters from COD were on the card as well: Celso Ramirez and Osvary Murrell. The COD team sold and gave away tickets to numerous youth and families.
As for the final results, Ramirez, from Minneapolis, fought Tyrone Luckey of Neptune, New Jersey to a draw. As for the Minneapolitan Morrell, he won against Miami, Florida’s Yendris Valdez.
Most recently, the Armory Foundation awarded Frazier a Lifetime Achievement Award. All proceeds generated by their award gala were given to the COD. Frazier will also be recognized at Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame’s 10th Anniversary Banquet on Oct. 11
Circle of Discipline is located at 1201 East Lake Street. The gym is open from Monday to Friday from 4 to 8 pm and Saturday from 10 am to 1 pm.
Individuals in the community can purchase a gym membership and check out a variety of programs and classes. Memberships for youth 17 and under are $30 a month; adults pay $50 a month. Family and friends memberships, which cover up to five people, cost $60 a month. Walk-ins can pay $10 per day without a membership.
Ashley Lauren is a contributing writer at the MN Spokesman-Recorder.