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Baltimore center lures students with books and hooks

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"No Hooks Before Books" is the motto of a unique program in the Baltimore inner city area. It is operated by director Marvin McDowell and Coach Dennis James.

Students, mostly male, attend the UMAR Boxing and Youth Development Center in order to learn the techniques of boxing. Before students can participate, however, they must engage in educational lessons conducted by certified teachers and Johns Hopkins University volunteers.

McDowell says this is an initiative to save Baltimore youth from the pull of negative forces, which are often inherent in urban areas. In addition to boxing, McDowell says there is an emphasis upon education, mentoring and community service.

Student volunteers from John Hopkins Children in Crisis class interact with the participants to guide them to success.

Dennis James, the head trainer, teaches them the art of boxing and takes them around the state to demonstrate their skills as they compete with other boxers. There are nine young people, at this time, who participate.

The UMAR Boxing and Youth Development Center has been around for sixteen years and is located at 1217 W. North Avenue. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 4PM - 8PM.

For further information, contact or visit their website at



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