New program introduces underprivileged Las Vegas high school kids to MMA


LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – Inside the Syndicate MMA gym in the Valley Southwest, professional fighters train around the clock, but in recent months a new crowd of high school students learn the trade.

” Go for it ! Of them! To the left of the body,” professional boxer and trainer Shane Mosley Jr. headed for the introductory class of “A Fighting Chance.”

Program founder James Murphy said the mission speaks for itself.

“Every child deserves a chance,” Murphy said. “It just assumed everything we’re trying to accomplish here.”

Murphy co-owns the gym and is CEO of nearby sports medicine clinic Pro-Am Sports. The idea for the program, “A Fighting Chance”, was born out of a desire to level the playing field in life.

“When it came up, it’s like an open door to get in,” said Joddy Liborio, a student in the program.

Murphy has partnered with the non-profit organization Project 150 which provides free necessities to homeless and disadvantaged high school students in the Valley. Now those who are interested have a free chance to learn something they would probably never otherwise be exposed to.

“Make sure every child, no matter what their life situation, has that path to success,” Murphy said.

Ten students graduated during the first 90-day class. They train two days a week and are now learning more advanced skills like jujitsu.

Students are taught by the pros, including Mosley Jr. and UFC fighters Jerry and Shane Shapiro.

“They pick things up pretty quickly,” Shane Shapiro said. “I show them high level moves – black belt level moves and they do well man. It’s crazy.”

“It kind of helps you expand your mind a bit,” said high school student Gael Tovar. “So it keeps your mind open to things and aware.”

Tovar said a few months in the program had already changed him as a person.

“More confident in myself, and if someone tries to play with me, I’m calmer,” Tovar said. “That’s what I’m talking about with the mental aspect that relaxes you so you don’t stress or worry about someone else.”

Ten other high school students are in a few weeks to learn the basics, like kicking and grappling.

“What we want to show them is that you can benefit from the process too. It’s not all about the goal. It’s about how you conduct yourself during the process, discipline, focus and the confidence that you learn by doing that process,” Murphy said. “You can then take that and apply it to going to college or getting a job or moving forward in life, first home, etc. It doesn’t happen. even if they’re just the ones who have an experience that they can look back on in life and say, well, even during a very difficult time in my life, hopefully it was cared for- the, a little hope.

It’s a chance to fight that everyone deserves.

The program is looking to add more students. All high school students who are part of Project 150 are eligible. Murphy hopes to add another location to make it easier for kids to get across the valley.

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