For six years, A.B.C. Boxing Academy stood for Attitude, Behavior, Consequences Box­ing Academy. A few months ago, owner Khalil Shakeel changed the name to Ambition Boxing Academy.

“You have to have ambition and drive to be successful in whatever, in boxing or in life,” said Shakeel, a two-time, All-Army boxer and former World Boxing Federation interconti­nental


With an average of 20 boxers per night, many of whom are servicemembers or veterans, the Cliffdale Road facility, provides fitness and training opportuni­ties, Shakeel said.

It is a sport that requires discipline, something a Soldier understands, explained Shakeel, who joined the military at age 18.

“The Army did everything for me as far as changing my life around. You don’t really know the lessons that you are learning while you are in the military until you advance along and get out. Then you

really see what the whole point of be­ing responsible or being disciplined meant.”

According to Sha­keel, some of the first techniques he teaches boxers are stance and balance — the springboard for being able to throw and receive punches.

“It’s like build­ing a house — you don’t start from the top, you start from the bottom. It’s the same thing with boxing. With that, comes the balance of how to throw the punches properly. You have the balance to throw an additional punch and to respond to what someone else is doing.”

The commitment and quest for improvement that went into boxing helped give Shakeel a way out of his north-Philadel­phia neighborhood, he said.

Like background music, boxing makes up part of the soundtrack of Shakeel’s life:

“Get your gloves, we’re going to shadow box,” he called above the sound of gloves hitting the bag at the gym one Monday night.

Kaniesha Smith, 24, a Soldier assigned to the Headquarters Support Company, Headquar­ters and Headquarters Bat­talion, XVIII Airborne Corps, answered the call.

Smith said she started going

to the academy in January, and has gone undefeated since coming under Shakeel’s tutelage. Her record as a lightweight, at 132 pounds, 1-0, she smiles, explaining that just having the confidence to step into the ring was a significant change in her life. “He (Shakeel) nourished my talent and gave me the confidence that I needed to step in the ring and win. What I’ve learned from Coach Khalil is to be resilient. When he comes in here, he could be having the worst day ever and you couldn’t tell. He’ll train you with the same inten­sity, the same motivation as if he was having the best day of his life. I look up to him,” Smith said.

“I want to make the 2016 Olympics. I know with Coach Khalil in my corner, I can make it and possibly receive a gold


Christopher Myrtil said he likes having access to the acad­emy’s boxing ring.

While other gyms focus on footwork and cardio, the ring access helps to improve the ability to fight back, said Myrtil, who fights at 180 pounds and is a Soldier assigned to the Com­pany E, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

“I love to try to better myself physically and this is also going to help mentally,” he said. “I love working on everything. There’s nothing I want to be weak at,” Myrtil said.

“It’s the best workout I’ve ever had. I do cross-fit. I run half-marathons, but it’s just a total body workout that’s kicking my butt,” said Cozette Teasley, an Air Force retiree who started frequenting the ac ademy.

Shakeel wants others to find out about the intensity of box­ing for themselves.

For more information about Ambition Boxing Academy, call 987-0671 or like it on Facebook at https://www. facebook. com/ ABCBOXIN­GACADEMY.