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Khali Sweeney

Founder and CEO, Downtown Boxing Gym

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 Khali Sweeney Biography

The boxing gym as a sort of school of hard knocks is an ancient cliché from movies and books. Life lessons imparted from the corner of the ropes. The odor of sweat and the din of slapping leather in a dimly-lit basement.

The nonprofit Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program, founded by Carlo "Coach Khali" Sweeney, 48, is a modern take on that scene. But instead of churning out boxers desperate to escape the inner city, the organization is lifting up kids who are underserved by Detroit's poor education system with a safe, clean, well-lit facility that puts learning above punching.

There's boxing, and a few have gone on to success in the ring, but the primary mission is providing classroom and life skills education to economically disadvantaged Detroit students. That includes after-school literacy and math remediation and elevation, STEM classes, career exposure, health and wellness workshops, computer coding and soon, music. Students also volunteer in the community.

The program is changing kids' lives. But Sweeney had to change his own life first.

Sweeney was illiterate when he dropped out of school in 11th grade. But a few years later, when he thought about the kids he knew from his neighborhood — most of them dead, or in jail — he knew he needed to forge a different path. He got a job in construction. He taught himself to read.

His learning gym has made a difference: each of the 267 students who have passed through the program since its launch in 2007 have graduated from high school.

The 27,500 square-foot gym at 6445 E. Vernor Highway serves about 130 students between the ages of 7 and 18, most of whom live within a few miles and often in public housing. There are six full or part-time teachers, three coaches and 25 volunteers. The gym owns five vans, soon six, that pick kids up and bring them to the facility. It also offers summer programming.

The former book-binding factory, with brick walls and industrial windows, was renovated to house a pair of boxing rings, speed bags, a track and other workout gear, but also classrooms, labs, a library and other educational workstations. Sweeney's philosophy is "books before boxing."

"For me, it's always been 'What is it that will make you a more successful and productive person?' For me, that's literacy. You can then do your own fact-finding. It's books before any sports, for that matter," he said.

The gym is free for students, but the gym must raise $1,800 to cover each student's costs. The waiting list has about 800 names, Sweeney said. Kids are chosen by lottery.

Sweeney launched the program in a smaller facility with money he'd saved from his construction job. Within a few years, the cash was spent. He happened to meet Jessica Hauser in 2010, and when she learned that the gym was struggling, she footed the bills and then helped make connections that boosted funding from corporations, foundations and celebrities — which helped the Boxing Gym purchase and renovate the current building. Hauser is now the gym's executive director.

Sweeney isn't resting on any laurels.

"I'm still working. We haven't made it there yet. We're not going to celebrate until we cross the finish line. There's still a lot of kids in the city dying, making bad choices," he said.

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  • HOW TO BOOK Khali Sweeney?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Khali Sweeney for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Khali Sweeney, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Khali Sweeney or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BOOK Khali Sweeney?

    Booking fees for Khali Sweeney, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Khali Sweeney, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • WHO IS THE AGENT FOR Khali Sweeney?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Khali Sweeney for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Khali Sweeney for your next private or corporate function.
  • WHAT IS A FULL-SERVICE TALENT BOOKING AGENCY?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Khali Sweeney or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Khali Sweeney or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.
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Khali Sweeney

Founder and CEO, Downtown Boxing Gym

Travels From:
Detroit, MI, USA
Speaking Fee:

Khali Sweeney Biography

The boxing gym as a sort of school of hard knocks is an ancient cliché from movies and books. Life lessons imparted from the corner of the ropes. The odor of sweat and the din of slapping leather in a dimly-lit basement.

The nonprofit Downtown Boxing Gym Youth Program, founded by Carlo "Coach Khali" Sweeney, 48, is a modern take on that scene. But instead of churning out boxers desperate to escape the inner city, the organization is lifting up kids who are underserved by Detroit's poor education system with a safe, clean, well-lit facility that puts learning above punching.

There's boxing, and a few have gone on to success in the ring, but the primary mission is providing classroom and life skills education to economically disadvantaged Detroit students. That includes after-school literacy and math remediation and elevation, STEM classes, career exposure, health and wellness workshops, computer coding and soon, music. Students also volunteer in the community.

The program is changing kids' lives. But Sweeney had to change his own life first.

Sweeney was illiterate when he dropped out of school in 11th grade. But a few years later, when he thought about the kids he knew from his neighborhood — most of them dead, or in jail — he knew he needed to forge a different path. He got a job in construction. He taught himself to read.

His learning gym has made a difference: each of the 267 students who have passed through the program since its launch in 2007 have graduated from high school.

The 27,500 square-foot gym at 6445 E. Vernor Highway serves about 130 students between the ages of 7 and 18, most of whom live within a few miles and often in public housing. There are six full or part-time teachers, three coaches and 25 volunteers. The gym owns five vans, soon six, that pick kids up and bring them to the facility. It also offers summer programming.

The former book-binding factory, with brick walls and industrial windows, was renovated to house a pair of boxing rings, speed bags, a track and other workout gear, but also classrooms, labs, a library and other educational workstations. Sweeney's philosophy is "books before boxing."

"For me, it's always been 'What is it that will make you a more successful and productive person?' For me, that's literacy. You can then do your own fact-finding. It's books before any sports, for that matter," he said.

The gym is free for students, but the gym must raise $1,800 to cover each student's costs. The waiting list has about 800 names, Sweeney said. Kids are chosen by lottery.

Sweeney launched the program in a smaller facility with money he'd saved from his construction job. Within a few years, the cash was spent. He happened to meet Jessica Hauser in 2010, and when she learned that the gym was struggling, she footed the bills and then helped make connections that boosted funding from corporations, foundations and celebrities — which helped the Boxing Gym purchase and renovate the current building. Hauser is now the gym's executive director.

Sweeney isn't resting on any laurels.

"I'm still working. We haven't made it there yet. We're not going to celebrate until we cross the finish line. There's still a lot of kids in the city dying, making bad choices," he said.

Khali Sweeney Videos

  • Boxing is the hook: Carlo "Coach Khali" Sweeney at TEDxDetroit 2012
  • Khali Sweeney Inspires a City of Fighters with Detroit Downtown ...
  • CNN Hero Khali Sweeney - YouTube

FAQs on booking Khali Sweeney

  • How to book Khali Sweeney?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Khali Sweeney for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Khali Sweeney, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Khali Sweeney or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • How much does it cost to book Khali Sweeney?

    Booking fees for Khali Sweeney, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Khali Sweeney, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • Who is the agent for Khali Sweeney?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Khali Sweeney for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Khali Sweeney for your next private or corporate function.
  • What is a full-service talent booking agency?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Khali Sweeney or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Khali Sweeney or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.

Khali Sweeney is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Khali Sweeney for your event is available upon request. Khali Sweeney generally travels from Detroit, MI, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Aaron Valencia, Mike Smith, Jessica Melore, Nicole Hockley and Najee Richardson. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Khali Sweeney for an upcoming event.

Khali Sweeney Speaker Videos

  • Boxing is the hook: Carlo "Coach Khali" Sweeney at TEDxDetroit 2012
    Khali Sweeney Inspires a City of Fighters with Detroit Downtown ...
  • CNN Hero Khali Sweeney - YouTube

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Speakers Similar to Khali Sweeney

This website is a resource for event professionals and strives to provide the most comprehensive catalog of thought leaders and industry experts to consider for speaking engagements. A listing or profile on this website does not imply an agency affiliation or endorsement by the talent.

All American Entertainment (AAE) exclusively represents the interests of talent buyers, and does not claim to be the agency or management for any speaker or artist on this site. AAE is a talent booking agency for paid events only. We do not handle requests for donation of time or media requests for interviews, and cannot provide celebrity contact information.

If you are the talent, and wish to request removal from this catalog or report an issue with your profile, please click here.

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