COVID-19 just another hurdle for Maleek Jackson and his boxing gym

If you’ve recently walked along North 2nd street in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia, it’s likely you’ve seen people shadow boxing and working out on the sidewalk outside of Maleek Jackson Fitness Boxing gym. Alternating workouts outside and other safety measures is how the gym is adapting to the pandemic.

But Jackson, a South Philly native, is no stranger to adversity. He found boxing after spending 10 years of his life in prison at the age of 16. He made it to where he is now with the help of former professional boxer Bernard Hopkins. He “got the best of both worlds without getting brain damage,” Hopkins said.

Jackson has a boxing bag hanging outside the gym for anybody in the community who wants to use it, acknowledging that times are tough for people physically, mentally and financially. He’s found that the outdoor workouts has attracted more curiosity from his neighbors. The gym’s two-year anniversary in the neighborhood is this week.

During a Wednesday evening workout, a young girl could be seen through the window, lifted in the air to play with the boxing bag hanging outside the gym.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Jackson said.