Montreal police officer Evens Guercy has had remarkable success keeping would-be gang members out of trouble by teaching them to fight.

It may seem counter-intuitive, and it's an idea that was rejected by city official when Guercy first proposed setting up a boxing club at a St. Michel High School in 2005.

Guercy said his idea was turned down "because they say in St. Michel there are a lot of street gangs and there's no way we're going to teach street gangs how to fight."

But Guercy stuck to his guns and was finally granted $4,000 in funding after convincing authorities that taking part in "the sweet science" would teach youngsters discipline, respect and fitness.

That worked and years later Guercy spends four or five nights a week at Louis-Joseph Papineau high school, running Le Clube de Boxe l'Espoir.

"I don't want them to be just a good boxer in the ring, I also want them to be a good person in the rest of society," said Guercy.

Teenagers who take part say it's a much better alternative than hanging out at a metro station or getting into trouble.

"I'd be at home watching TV and getting bored without this," said one youth named Darius.

Teens who train at the club not only get in shape, they also get to meet athletes like professional boxer Olivier Lontchi.

The pro fighter -- who trains with well-known Montrealer Howard Grant -- often drops by Club de Boxe l'Espoir.

Lontchi is impressed by Guercy's dedication to the club and his students.

"Sometimes he has to take money from his own pocket and put it in this project and many people don't do that," said Lontchi. "It's incredible."

Guercy was recently recognized by Montreal city hall for the good work he's done.

"We can change lives and I always say if I can save one of them I'd be so proud, but I think we do more than one."


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