June 2020: On a beautiful day in Medellín, Iron Army Co-Founder Joe Volgey was introduced to Boxeo Para La Vida. Some 5300 feet at the top of the mountain in barrio Manrique, Joan Vasquez and Diego Beltran started a youth boxing club designed to keep young children out of gangs, drugs and prostitution. Volgey had been stuck in Medellin for four months during the pandemic and was helping distribute food and supplies to barrios that needed it most with Colectivo Por Naturaleza and Help Colombia, two local non-profit organizations.
Joe had learned about the club from Carlos Congote, a friend that had been helping the team as life in barrio La Honda is much different than that of the city of Medellín. "As soon as Carlos mentioned the boxing club to me, we arranged for groceries for 40 families of the kids in the club and elderly local neighbors who needed it most. Two days later we made the trek up the mountain for what was a life changing experience."
While Joe was visiting with Joan and Diego learning more about the area and the idea behind the club, he immediately sought out the help of The Iron Army. The following day, Iron Army donated mouth pieces, hands wraps, and pads. Shortly thereafter, Iron Army pooled together the two organizations along with Alex Wilkie MMA and La Fond Medellín to outfit the club with jerseys uniting the children as a team.
In October, Iron Army Founder and UFC contender Frankie Edgar was in town with his wife Renee for treatment with BioXcellerator, a world's leader in stem cell therapy and immunotherapy. On a rainy afternoon, the Edgar's started their journey up the mountain with UFC Welterweight Champion Kamaru Usman. Once the arrived, Frankie and Kamaru were amazed by the view of the city and the group of children who were waiting for them to arrive. Two of the world's best fighters ran through basic drills, holding pads and teaching the kids the art of striking and self defense.
"I have to be honest, it was tough getting up here but once we arrived I was really happy we made the trip. These kids are amazing! Joan and Diego are really committed to making a difference in the community serving as role models for the kids. Life in beautiful city of Medellín is humbling, but up in Manrique is way different than anything I have ever experienced." said Edgar.
Usman noted on Instagram, "Sometimes a reminder is necessary in order to propelled you through the next chapters of your life." He continued, "These kids and their families are under so much adversity on a consistent basis, but they still come out here and try to better and empower themselves."
Iron Army is proud to support this youth boxing club. Look for Frankie and the team to build upon this community outreach program in the future.