Orlando ‘credible messengers’ combat youth violence as Florida eyes funding for intervention programs

Orlando ‘credible messengers’ combat youth violence as Florida eyes funding for intervention programs

Days before Christmas, 24 fighters ranging from 5 to 17 years old were warming up to showcase their skills in the caged octagon set up in the parking lot of the New Image Youth Center in Parramore. Dozens of chairs were set up around the ring but many among the scores who showed up preferred to watch the bouts up-close.

The rules were simple: two 1-minute rounds and no headshots. Ruben Saldaña, a former leader of the International Posse gang who is now a leader of the Credible Messengers of Florida, refereed the fights, joined by Tracy Cox, a longtime student of his who kept time and manned the air horn.

Many who participated had never stepped into an octagon before, but had been trained by...

Full story at Orlando Sentinel

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