BROWNING — A mission that started in the early 2000s, Frank T. Kipp is providing a safe outlet for youth in Browning.
Kipp, a traumatic brain injury survivor, former probation officer, and anti-bullying advocate lived a hard life. Growing up in Seattle, Kipp's adolescent life was on the city streets, fighting for his survival. Like many of the athletes he trains on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, the students battle the harsh realities of suicide, bullying, and financial struggles.
"I know one day, I am going to save a kid, and he’s going to invent something, or create something… I always tell kids, to be the dad you didn’t have or be the mother you didn’t have."
The mission of Blackfeet Boxing Club began with the idea of helping young women defend themselves against domestic violence. More importantly to be a productive member of their community.
"I want them to be productive citizens, graduate high school, help others, and be kind to people, don’t be a bully."
In the past 20 years, Kipp and his wife Ember have clothed, fed, and aided athletes whose families are struggling financially. The gym is a safe haven for students, a place to do homework or pass the time with pool tables and games.
"I'm really excited to get back in here," expressed Sheldon Meineke, a 15-year-old boxer with the club.
Meineke took a few years off from training with Kipp and the club but says that Frank is a role model for him.
"If I don't have a dad, Frank is like my second dad," Meineke explained.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation is in the 90th percentile for suicide rates. For youth on the Reservation, the rate is 38.5 per 100,000 for youth ages 15-24.
Meineke said, "Frank talks to us a lot about suicide... If you're in the mindset and you come in here that all stays away from you, and it's just all about fun. Having fun in here and learning how to fight and protect yourself and you keep your mind off of that."
"I've been there, where I thought that nobody loves me, that it isn't going to get better, that taking my own life was the only option. Through my faith, I found life is special," explained Kipp.
The life lessons of Kipp have trickled down through all of his students, including Kakota Goodgun, another 15-year-old boxer.
"It’s mainly taught me to control myself, respect, and love others, and not take stuff for granted. That’s what I’ve learned here."
Goodgun has aspirations of being a champion and qualifying for the Olympics.
The Blackfeet Boxing Club welcomed new renovations to its facility on Tuesday evening. Private donors, ARPA funding, and help from surrounding communities have helped the club expand its training
area. The club has learned how to reuse its equipment and its work to improve the gym isn't done.
"I don't really have a new heavy bag. I get a lot of used stuff and that’s what we do, you know? Once we get our 501(c)3 status, the sky is the limit…"
With the renovations and extra space, perseverance has a place inside the Blackfeet Boxing Club.
"It's amazing what one man can do," added Goodgun.
If you would like to donate to the Blackfeet Boxing Club, contact the club through its Facebook Page.
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