In Berkeley park, free boxing program inspires young men

It started when Manuel Buendía began taking his young sons to San Pablo Park in Berkeley to teach them to box. Soon others wanted to join in, and now Buendía runs an informal, free boxing training program for any young person who shows interest.

Buendía hopes the sessions are helping some of the participants stay out of trouble. As he says in the video above, “Instead of them fighting out on the street, they should bring it here. Here in the park, right? They can take their anger out here, with boxing.”

Luis Flores, a UC Berkeley student who also attended Berkeley High School, shot the video above through Youth Radio, a non-profit based in downtown Oakland.

Flores said he learned about the boxing program through some people he knew who trained with Buendía, and who encouraged him and his brother to introduce themselves and begin training.


“I currently go and train whenever I have free afternoons,” he said.

Flores said that he wanted to document the program “to help highlight some of the lesser known things about Berkeley and how the community can come together to create a more positive environment, especially for youth. I created this video in hopes of inspiring others to do more community-oriented activities, such as the free training that takes place at this park.”

Flores has been involved with Youth Radio since 2008. His interest began in learning music production but he discovered he loved shooting video and is now an assistant video producer. He said he may apply to go to grad school for a master’s in film or filmmaking.

Any young person can show up at San Pablo Park and train with Buendía. It’s free of charge — the only thing that Buendía may ask is that a participant occasionally bring a case of water to share with the rest of the group, as there are no water fountains nearby, and the boxing workout can be physically draining. Usually they have a back-up case of water, but it’s always good to have extra.

The daily schedule of the training sessions may fluctuate given the season, but usually Buendía will set up between 3:30 pm and 4 p.m. and will break down the equipment at sunset.


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