Miranda Kamal remembers the day a young eight-year-old boy showed up at her Parkdale boxing club.
Kamal described the story of a boy who came to Canada after losing both his parents. He learned he was moving during a car ride to the airport, and that he would be staying with an aunt he had only met a few times.
“He was struggling to get through the day,” Kamal said.
The co-founder of the Mentoring Junior Kids Organization (MJKO) has devoted her life to giving back to the Toronto community by offering free fitness based boxing classes that aim to provide kids with the physical and mental strength to be successful in life.
According to Kamal, the eight-year-old struggled when he came to Canada, he barely spoke English and struggled in school.
“He had a rough go,” Kamal said. “He was struggling to get through the day.”
But the young boy turned it around. His grades improved and he made new friends at MJKO.
At 11, the young boy won a gold medal in the novice category at the Brampton Cup, the largest boxing tournament in Canada.
MJKO teaches its members to train, prepare, and believe, leveraging the sport of boxing to create the foundation for confidence and success.
“You learn how to be okay with fear,” Kamal said, adding “I needed to compete to figure out if I could stand alone in this ring, where no one can save you, and once I did that it was such a freeing experience.”
“Many of the children who come to our organization feel they don’t fit anywhere,” Kamal explained.
One program run by MJKO called “My Turn to Coach” allows children to practice being leaders and educators. The kids lead the class and get to teach coaches and the rest of the members about their topic between training sessions.
MJKO has also helped over 60 children get their level one National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) as well as First Aid and CPR so they can always fall back on a career in sports and recreation.
While the young boy’s story is one of many at MJKO, Kamal says you can see the change in the kids.
During his fight at the Brampton Cup, Kamal said: “something happened (for him) during that competition, the light went on.”
The classes at MJKO are free so anyone can join and you can volunteer or donate by following this link: www.mjko.ca/how-to-donate/