PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — When Providence College student Gabriel Ventura first heard boxer Lamont Powell’s story of survival a couple years ago, he became inspired.
“He’s a hero to me,” Ventura said. “He was shot at and he said, ‘You know what? It’s not about me, it’s about the community.'”
When Ventura was asked to team up with a business or organization to better the lives of those living in Providence for a class project, it was a no-brainer for him to reach out to Powell.
Ventura and several of his classmates formed “Up in Arms Against Firearms,” a group which aims to teach kids that gun violence isn’t the answer.
The project has a personal touch for Ventura, whose friend was shot in the capital city.
“It affected me and the people in the community,” Ventura said. “Once I was given a platform in this class to fight against it, I knew this was what I was meant to do.”
Powell knows that feeling all too well.
“I was in a shootout and almost lost my life,” Powell said. “It means a lot to me that I’m still here standing to this day.”
The more time you have on your hands, the more time you have to turn to the streets, according to Powell. That’s why he’s made it his mission to mentor inner-city youth.
Powell joined the “Gloves Up, Guns Down” movement, which teaches kids how to protect themselves without picking up a firearm. He now owns a gym in Providence where he offers youth boxing classes.
“If I can give them another source to turn to instead of turning to the streets, then so be it,” Powell said. “I will give them every single minute of my time so they don’t have to go out there, pick up a gun and throw away their lives.”
“If I could save one kid, it means a lot to me,” Powell said. “But if I can save 10 kids, that would mean even more … I just want these kids to have successful lives.”
The event will allow the kids participating in Powell’s after-school program to spar in front of an audience. It will take place at Gloves Up, Guns Down on Silver Lake Avenue this Saturday at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 per person and the public is welcome to attend. Powell said all of the money will go toward his youth boxing program.