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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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FAQs
  • How do I book Khali Sweeney to speak at my event?

    Our experienced booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure speakers like Khali Sweeney for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment since 2002. Click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page to check availability 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 speaking fee information and check availability for Khali Sweeney or any other speaker of your choice.
  • What are the speaker fees for Khali Sweeney

    Speaking fees for Khali Sweeney, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. The estimated fees to book Khali Sweeney are available upon request for live events and available upon request for virtual events. For the most current speaking fee to hire Khali Sweeney, click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak directly with an experienced booking agent.
  • What topics does Khali Sweeney speak about?

    Khali Sweeney is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Business, Education, Inspirational Speakers, Motivation, Non Profit, Personal Growth.
  • Where does Khali Sweeney travel from?

    Khali Sweeney generally travels from Detroit, MI, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances across the country.
  • Who is Khali Sweeney’s agent?

    AAE Speakers Bureau has successfully booked keynote speakers like Khali Sweeney for clients worldwide since 2002. As a full-service speaker 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. Please click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page including the details of your event, 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 speaker booking agency?

    AAE Speakers Bureau is a full-service speaker booking agency, meaning we can completely manage the speaker’s or celebrity’s engagement with your organization from the time of booking your speaker through the event’s completion. We provide all of the services you need to host Khali Sweeney or any other speaker of your choice, including offer negotiation, contractual assistance, accounting and billing, and event speaker travel and logistics services. When you book a speaker with us, we manage the process of hosting a speaker for you as an extension of your team. Our goal is to give our clients peace of mind and a best-in-class service experience when booking a speaker with us.
  • Why is AAE Speakers Bureau different from other booking agencies?

    If you’re looking for the best, unbiased speaker recommendations, paired with a top-notch customer service experience, you’re in the right place. At AAE Speakers Bureau, we exclusively represent the interests of our clients - professional organizations, companies, universities, and associations. We intentionally do not represent the speakers we feature or book. That is so we can present our clients with the broadest and best performing set of speaker options in the market today, and we can make these recommendations without any obligation to promote a specific speaker over another. This is why when our agents suggest a speaker for your event, you can be assured that they are of the highest quality with a history of proven success with our other clients.
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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 a profile update or removal from our online directory, please submit a profile request form.

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 do I book Khali Sweeney to speak at my event?

    Our experienced booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure speakers like Khali Sweeney for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment since 2002. Click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page to check availability 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 speaking fee information and check availability for Khali Sweeney or any other speaker of your choice.
  • What are the speaker fees for Khali Sweeney

    Speaking fees for Khali Sweeney, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. The estimated fees to book Khali Sweeney are available upon request for live events and available upon request for virtual events. For the most current speaking fee to hire Khali Sweeney, click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak directly with an experienced booking agent.
  • What topics does Khali Sweeney speak about?

    Khali Sweeney is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Business, Education, Inspirational Speakers, Motivation, Non Profit, Personal Growth.
  • Where does Khali Sweeney travel from?

    Khali Sweeney generally travels from Detroit, MI, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances across the country.
  • Who is Khali Sweeney’s agent?

    AAE Speakers Bureau has successfully booked keynote speakers like Khali Sweeney for clients worldwide since 2002. As a full-service speaker 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. Please click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page including the details of your event, 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 speaker booking agency?

    AAE Speakers Bureau is a full-service speaker booking agency, meaning we can completely manage the speaker’s or celebrity’s engagement with your organization from the time of booking your speaker through the event’s completion. We provide all of the services you need to host Khali Sweeney or any other speaker of your choice, including offer negotiation, contractual assistance, accounting and billing, and event speaker travel and logistics services. When you book a speaker with us, we manage the process of hosting a speaker for you as an extension of your team. Our goal is to give our clients peace of mind and a best-in-class service experience when booking a speaker with us.
  • Why is AAE Speakers Bureau different from other booking agencies?

    If you’re looking for the best, unbiased speaker recommendations, paired with a top-notch customer service experience, you’re in the right place. At AAE Speakers Bureau, we exclusively represent the interests of our clients - professional organizations, companies, universities, and associations. We intentionally do not represent the speakers we feature or book. That is so we can present our clients with the broadest and best performing set of speaker options in the market today, and we can make these recommendations without any obligation to promote a specific speaker over another. This is why when our agents suggest a speaker for your event, you can be assured that they are of the highest quality with a history of proven success with our other clients.

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, Carolyn Williams, Mike Smith, Rebekah Gregory and Ashley Rhodes-Courter. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Khali Sweeney for an upcoming live or virtual 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

Tell us about your event!

During normal business hours, we respond to most inquiries within 4 hours.

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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 a profile update or removal from our online directory, please submit a profile request form.

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