Tonight’s was an especially sad story to report. Keith Benjamin died this summer during a boot camp at 3rd Street Boxing Gym. The autopsy report concluded he died from blunt force trauma. Benjamin left behind a wife and two young children. Who knows if Benjamin would still be alive, had the gym followed rules set by the sport’s governing body, USA Boxing? You can read more of the issues in our script from tonight.
You can get a glimpse into what drew Keith Benjamin to boxing in his blog. He started the blog to give his perspective as a venture capitalist, but he often reflected on his personal life. He describes his first fight at 3rd Street Gym, during which he suffered a concussion.
We got a lot of reaction from our story last night into private shows at some of the most exclusive clubs in San Francisco, featuring amateur boxers as young as eight years of age. Here’s a sampling.
From Anonymous: “I attended the Boxing Event reported on at the City Club. I was asked by a friend, and only knew the event was to include black-tie attire, dinner, and boxing. After dinner, we headed down the stairs to wait for the boxing matches to begin, and there were about 10 - 15 kids warming up near the elevators. I was stunned at the age of the boxers. Some looked as though they were only 11 or 12 years old. I had assumed that the boxers would be adults. I talked myself out of immediate guilty feelings by thinking that maybe some portion of the $120 ticket I paid for was going to help these children, or that perhaps a star would be born that Friday night. But it became increasingly clear that these were underprivileged, inner city, ethnic minority kids putting on a show for the ‘rich white folks.’ I felt like I had stepped back in time, and none of it sat well with me. I only stayed to watch the first match of three rounds. I was uneasy about what I was watching, where I was, and what I was participating in. I don't know the rules. I only knew that I was invited to an event and I accepted, hoping to meet some influential people (I am out of work and thought perhaps I could meet a job connection). I believe that we (City Club attendees including myself) should take some responsibility here, however, the parents/guardians and boxing clubs are ultimately responsible for putting these children in this archaically oppressive situation. One of the scantily clad ring girls was the daughter of the announcer. I am glad that ABC news exposed this exploitive trend.”
From an organizer inside amateur boxing: “While the athletic commission was critical of amateur boxing they need to take jurisdiction over amateur boxing since USA Boxing is condoning these events by turning a blind eye to the profit making. Also many of those you interviewed will manage these amateurs when they become professional boxers and professional boxing is worse business. Great reporting.”
From a viewer in Sebastopol: “I am aghast at seeing the young 8 yr olds fighting in a boxing ring for the bored and rich...its amoral and disgusting and abusive. Shame on all involved! Betting on children hurting each other is beneath contempt! Have we lost our common decency?”
From a viewer in Oakland: “Thank you I-Team for this fighting investigation. I AM OUTRAGED at the fact that these kids are objects of entertainment for wealthy adults. I am sure these kids are Latinos and African Americans. There is no money for education nor opportunities for Latino immigrant kids but there is money for using them as puppets. I hope you repeat this story. I am going to make sure other people hear about it and more importantly, that parents speak up against it. Amateur fighting is part of many teens in Latin America, but not the way is seeing here. Again, these kids are used as objects, and so the ring girls who truly look like little girls.”
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