Free boxing gym for Newark's youth

In the back of the Sharpe James Recreation Center in Newark, New Jersey, is a special place. It is the Ironbound Boxing Academy, a nonprofit boxing gym that provides free recreation to kids in the city.

Mike Steadman—a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, a three-time national champion with the Navy Boxing Team, and a Marine Corps veteran—opened the boxing gym last year.

The gym's philosophy is "more than boxing." The goal isn't to create professional boxers, Mike says, but to spend time with the kids in a really cool environment.

Outside of the gym, Mike often connects with local kids over Instagram and social media.

Inside, it's no cell phones and all business.

Mike says he wants to help the kids understand that the skills they develop in the gym can be applied elsewhere. The most important thing, he says, is showing up. If you show up, you're going to get better, whether that's in the gym, at school, at a job. Mike believes that if they can help the kids understand that, then they can achieve success.

When we visited Ironbound, Mike showed us a boy jumping rope. When he first came to the gym, he didn't think it was for him because he was into mixed martial arts and couldn't really jump rope. Mike says that same boy is now in the gym every day and has lost 30 pounds.

That, Mike says, is a real buy-in. When a new kid comes to the gym, Mike gets him started working out right away.

And it's about so much more than just a great workout. Mike says that Ironbound USA is a movement focused on teaching kids personal branding and boxing.

Ironbound Boxing Gym is open Tuesday through Friday, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Everything from the recreational space, courtesy of the city government of Newark, to the water bottles is donated.

To donate or find out more, head over to