Baltimore, MD – Baltimore Mayor Jack Young has a plan to combat the skyrocketing number of gun violence incidents in the city.
Citizens just need to settle their differences in a boxing ring.
"If they want to really settle them, we can have them down at the civic center, put a boxing ring up and let them go and box it out,” Young told WBAL on Sunday. “Those kinds of things, you know, and the best man wins and the beef should be over.”
The mayor’s quick-fix solution came on the heels of a deadly weekend in the city.
Two people were killed and 11 more were injured as the result of eight shootings and a fatal stabbing.
"Gun violence has been plaguing this city for the last 10 years,” Young told WBAL. “The murder rate in this city and non-fatal shootings have increased. I'm not happy with it and neither should the citizens of Baltimore.”
On Monday, Young’s spokesman, Lester Davis, said that the mayor’s idea about establishing a boxing ring for people who would otherwise want to murder one another is worth looking into, The Baltimore Sun reported.
WMAR Boxing owner Marvin McDowell said he has long believed that the sport could be used to help cultivate respect and discipline for the city’s youth.
“It gets the kids or the people to understand their will, how far they can go, what they can take,” he said.
McDowell said that the two fighters should also sign a contract prior to the fight, thereby agreeing that the outcome of the match will end the beef between them.
“I think it’d be worth further study,” Davis said of McDowell’s proposal.
But Munir Bahar, who operations youth martial arts programs in the area, said that Young’s suggestion is a “smack in the face” to those in the industry who have been pushing similar ideas for years.
“Now it’s like, all of a sudden, it’s a novel idea coming from Jack Young,” Bahar told The Baltimore Sun.
Bahar said that without “supportive therapeutic intervention,” using boxing to settle altercations could do more harm than good.
“We’re talking about traumatized people in a war zone,” he noted. “It’s just going to get some guys angry. We know that anger is going to spill outside of that boxing ring.”
Young recently attended a National Gun Violence Day event with Baltimore States Attorney Marilyn Mosby, where they discussed the benefits of helping youth connect with pro-social resources and activities, WBAL reported.
"Frederick Douglas said it best,” Mosby said. “It's easier to build strong children than it is to repair broken men, and so we have to focus on our babies before it's too late.”
Mosby said that curbing violence in the city will take more than the work of the police and city hall.
“It’s going to take all of us to change what’s happening,” she said. “The biggest and most important stakeholder in all of this is the community.”