On April 30th, Templeton Secondary's Boys Club hosted former world champ boxer Ray 'Boom Boom' Mancini, who came to the give the club's young men some life lessons.
Beginning with a short speech about himself, Mancini's humour and humility endeared the audience, before taking questions from students. For over two hours, Mancini peppered the talk with his experiences in the boxing ring, with the analogies to match.
"A loss is an opportunity to educate," says Mancini. "I've had more misses than hits in my life, but that never discouraged me from taking a shot."
He stressed the need for discipline in life and to believe in oneself.
"If you don't believe in yourself, nobody else will," says Mancini. "Life's a ring. When you're getting your butt kicked, who's in the ring with you? Not your girlfriend, not your best friend. Just you, and you alone. You have to believe in yourself to win."
But while the boys sat back with pizza, the girls were busy learning knockout moves.
In Templeton's gymnasium, the Girls Club were taught a slew of self-defence moves by former world bantamweight kickboxing champ Leah Goldstein.
Discplined in the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, Goldstein demonstrated how women can neutralize a threat by targeting certain body parts. The girls then practiced using gloves and padded shields.
"You have to go crazy with these moves," laughs Templeton theatre teacher Tanya Zambrano. "But this is empowering for these young women. Empowerment is the whole theme of the Girls Club."
Zambrano and Templeton's Fine Arts Department head Jim Crescenzo are responsible for running the clubs.
As he introduced Mancini, Crescenzo highlighted the purpose of the Boys Club.
"It's about helping young men at risk. Some men are missing father figures," he told the audience. "These are men that may have a lot to be angry about. The Boys Club creates a safe, positive space and brings male role-models for them."
Templeton's Boys Club is also the focus of a play called Man Up!, which is being performed between April 29th to May 9th. A fixture in the Theatre Temp program for several years, Man Up! has received wide publicity and critical acclaim.
Click here to order tickets for Man Up! or to learn more about the Boys and Girls Clubs.