Located in the Druid Heights neighborhood is a small boxing gym located above a pawnshop. In that gym, Marvin McDowell is working to give children a positive place to go after school.
Marvin McDowell, executive director of the UMAR Boxing Program, Inc., founded the program for youth in 1996 and opened the first gym in 1998 on Fulton Avenue. In 2004, he moved to his current location on West North Avenue.
The word “umar” means life and lifetime, according to McDowell. He says the youth are going to get a “lifetime of experiences coming to the gym… something to help them along.”
The former pro boxer, president of the South Atlantic Boxing Association and member of the Maryland Boxing Hall of Fame, says that boxing provides “structure, self esteem, discipline, camaraderie, commitment and respect.”
McDowell stresses that academics are as important as the more physical aspects of his program. Children 13 years old and under are required to study prior to any workouts. The UMAR motto is “no hooks before books.”