'Champion' creators bring boxing-based opera to Harlem's youth

Dozens of Harlem students at Brotherhood Sister Sol sat in awe Wednesday of some of the most accomplished musicians and athletes in the world.

Ryan Speedo Green, the lead in the opera ‘Champion,’ brought his performance, set to debut at the Met, right to the heart of Hamilton Heights.

"To bring the second Black-written, Black opera at the Met Opera here to our space at Brotherhood Sister Sol so that our young people can be exposed to that world," said Khary Lazzarre-White, the executive director and co-founder of Brotherhood Sister Sol.

Boxing and opera in harmony for students.

Seven-time Grammy Award-winning musician Terence Blanchard wrote the play about the life of boxing World Champion Emile Griffith, played by Ryan Speedo Green.

"If they encounter these productions, they’ll see themselves on the stage, they’ll see things from the culture they can understand," Blanchard said.

Blanchard, Green and former heavyweight world boxing champion Michael Bentt spent time discussing their own paths to success and lessons along the way with the youth of course. They shared insight about the Champion, where the worlds of music and boxing collide.

"Boxing is very much like jazz. You have six fundamental punches, right, and you learn some other combinations. Then the rest of it is improvisation," Blanchard explained.

"I encourage kids to engage in boxing practices because it teaches you self-discipline and the overcoming of pain, which is what life is about," said Bentt, who's also a four-time NY Golden Goves winner.

Dozens of students sat in awe of some of the most accomplished musicians and athletes in the world.

Among all the young ears and eyes in the room, their aim was to strike one heart.

"We only need to grab one dude. We only need to grab one. We grab one that one could influence a whole neighborhood of kids," Blanchard shared.

While we're sure many others were inspired, the combo of talent was a total knockout for student Brianna Docosta, an experience she'll remember forever.

"Not everyone climbs mountains, and to actually see people who’ve climbed mountains that look like me was inspirational," she said.

'Champion' creators bring boxing-based opera to Harlem's youth.

"It’s about bringing something that’s only a few miles away at Lincoln Center but can sometimes feel worlds away right here to their block in Harlem," Lazarre-White explained.

The next time you can see the world of boxing and opera collide will be live at the Met April 10 through May 13.