Brandon Hirales learned about Chicago Youth Boxing Club from his older sister, who won a Golden Glove tournament after training there for four years. The idea of winning boxing matches like his sister definitely appealed to the now-15-year-old. But losing weight was his more immediate goal. Over a nine-month period after joining the club, he worked out religiously five days a week, eventually dropping 94 pounds.

“I wanted to see myself in shape and healthy, that’s what motivated me,” says the soft-spoken sophomore. 

He no longer is concentrating on the pounds that he lost, but what he has gained: self-confidence, discipline and the ability to set goals. His weight loss taught him that he can take on a difficult task and succeed. 

“It was a big goal to accomplish and it took a lot of hard work. I was working at it every day.” Staff at the boxing club gave him advice about how to lose the weight in a healthy way “and helped me talk about the things I was struggling with. I have a lot of energy and I can do a lot of things.” 

“I feel good because whenever I have a problem, the coaches help me. It’s an all-around good and positive vibe in the gym.”

Brandon Hirales

Now that Brandon is a trim 143 pounds, his focus has turned more to boxing. The McCormick Foundation helps fund the boxing club, including out-of-state trips to competitions. The club’s mission is to give young people a constructive, healthy alternative to drugs and gang violence and help them build the life skills necessary to create a positive future for themselves and the community. 

Brandon enjoys being part of a team, and working out and training with peers. “I feel good because whenever I have a problem, the coaches help me. It’s an all-around good and positive vibe in the gym.” Making the right choices for his physical health has also translated to life outside of the gym. “It’s helped me to realize the importance of making healthy decisions for my future.”

Not everyone has an equal shot at the American Dream. Fortunately, there are dedicated people across Chicagoland who are committed to making sure every child and family has opportunities to achieve their goals. With your support, we can create new possibilities and help make countless dreams come true. With support from donors like you, the Robert R. McCormick Foundation invests in organizations on Chicago’s South and West sides improving the lives of children and families each and every day.