About this series: The Downtown Boxing Gym is incredibly proud of our 100% high school graduation rate – a track record of success that has continued every year since 2007 thanks to the hard work and dedication of our students, staff and volunteers. As graduation approaches, we’re celebrating our Class of 2018 seniors and their bright futures.

To hear his grandmother tell it, Kristopher S. was a dazzling, serious athlete — but a struggling student — when he first walked into the Downtown Boxing Gym as a ninth grader four years ago.

“It’s been boxing and academics,” says his grandmother, Laverne Jackson. “He’s doing better now. He’s graduating in June. He’s interested in veterinary science, so he wants to be a veterinarian.”

Shipman, 18, who lives in Detroit, will graduate from Ferndale High School, where he’s now a senior. He was a standout football player in middle school, where he earned 22 trophies. (“Some of them were as tall as him,” Jackson says.) But then he tore ligaments in both knees, ending his ability to run. No more football or basketball.

It was also a struggle to get him to study, Jackson says. So she did a simple Google search for a place that was good for athletically gifted kids who struggled with academics, and she found the gym.

“He needed direction and he got it there,” says Jackson, who works in special education at Ferndale Schools. “I’m really thankful.”

At the gym, Shipman quickly took to boxing and started attending our free after school academic and athletic program four days a week to work out, hit the ring, and tackle his school books.

Shipman’s future plans include attending Oakland Community College to do his prerequisites, then transferring to Oakland University to study to be a vet.

“I would like readers to know that the Downtown Boxing Gym is the best,” Jackson says. “Anything a kid needs, they can get it there. They have everything. It’s a great place to learn social skills. How to be a man, really.”

Thanks for being a part of the Downtown Boxing Gym family, Kristopher and congratulations on your graduation. We are so proud!