The Universal Combat League wrapped up its first session of boxing classes for kids over the weekend with a graduation ceremony at Meriwether’s in town. UCL founder J.W. Kiser taught classes with Mark Brown at the UCL gym, 500 Oak St. 

Kiser said he and Brown were planning a youth boxing program for a few months. With Kiser’s schedule with other UCL events, his Bellator fight in January and vacation, Kiser said Brown led the program and Kiser helped out when he was around.

“(Brown) is just an awesome guy,” Kiser said. “Especially with kids. He did great.”

The classes met for six weeks at the gym starting with the basics of boxing and continuing from there. Kiser said the classes were designed to help promote self-confidence, discipline, motivation, respect, motor skills, concentration, fitness and health while making new friends. He also said the classes can help with anti-bullying with the confidence boost kids can get.

The classes ended with the first group being honored last Saturday at Meriwether’s at a graduation ceremony. Kiser said there were photos taken and each boxer got a certificate. 

He said there were multiple people that showed up to the graduation to sign up for the next set of classes that began on Tuesday night. Kiser said there was so much interest from the first session that it will be split into two groups moving forward.

“We decided we would separate this moving forward,” Kiser said. “We will have 7-unders in one class and 8-overs in another class.”

He also said the classes will be cut down to four weeks instead of six. The program costs $50, but Kiser said kids can join at any time and the cost will be prorated for joining midseason.

He continued to talk about the age groups at the upper level of classes. 

“At 8 years old, you are eligible for USA Boxing,” he said. “(USA Boxing) is the nationwide organization behind boxing. It starts with 8-12 who are Silver Gloves, 13-15 who are Junior Olympics and 16-over who are Golden Gloves.”

Kiser said that a goal that he and Brown have is for the kids to start competing at events in Kansas City. Kiser said competitive boxing was the best part of his childhood.

“That was the best thing of my childhood when I was boxing with all my friends,” Kiser said. “It was a great environment with great camaraderie. We would travel the state together with my coach Matt McBride and his assistant. McBride had an RV and would pile us into it. Every weekend we would travel to these different boxing tournaments. We had an absolute blast. We had a great time.”

Kiser said the only time he was on the honor roll was when he was boxing. The ultimate goal for the classes is to get the kids involved in the sport and to allow them to compete with the other cities.

Kiser also talked about the fitness aspect of it. He brought up how Meriwether’s was one of the sponsors for the class and donated health snack packs for the kids to promote healthy eating. He also thanked Advantage Printing and the Shell gas station on Spruce Street for their sponsorship as well. Kiser said the UCL is looking for more sponsors and donations to help the boxing program and other classes the UCL puts on.