From prayer to boxing: Naples church affords jobless youths lifeline


NAPLES, Italy (Information) – Thwacks and thumps echo by the hallway of the 17th century church in a uncared for Naples neighborhood as 21-year-old Nico Rodrigues and 20 different children undergo their paces within the boxing ring.

Rodrigues is considered one of 60 younger individuals who have discovered an escape from the native space’s harsh streets within the boxing mission based a yr in the past by Father Antonio Loffredo to steer jobless d youths from a possible lifetime of crime.

Whereas he practices his jabs and uppercuts on the hanging punch bag, outdoors the church’s doorways younger individuals in hoodies argue and throw punches at one another as police sirens blare – a well-recognized road scene within the poor Rione Sanita district.

Rodrigues grew up within the neighborhood, north of Naples’ historic heart, the place poverty and excessive ranges of crime imply younger individuals have only a few alternatives.

The Naples Campania space can be residence to Camorra, considered one of Italy’s three essential mafias – together with Sicily’s Cosa Nostra and Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta’ – which authorities says lures jobless youths.

Unemployment for 15 to 24-year olds in Campania was 39.7%, in response to the statistics workplace Elabroazione Osservatorio Statistico.

For Rodrigues, and the opposite 59 younger individuals who be a part of the boxing session thrice every week on the Santa Maria della Sanita church, letting out their frustrations on punch baggage is a welcome escape from the realities of residing in Rione Sanita.

“I practiced totally different sports activities however boxing is the one one which makes me really feel good each bodily and mentally and that permits me to precise my feelings, whether or not it’s anger or happiness,” Rodrigues advised Information throughout a Wednesday evening boxing lesson.


Within the church corridor, constructed between 1602-1611 and is known for its vibrant yellow dome that may be noticed miles away, the Eight-22 year-olds are put by their paces by two policemen, a relationship which has helped calm stress between police and youth on the streets.

They’re taught the strict guidelines of the game – the way to focus, not lose a bout – all classes they’re meant to take with them into on a regular basis life.

Native resident Davide Marotta is one other common within the church-turned-gym. After seeing many associates find yourself in jail, he now focuses his time on serving to children falling by the boxing ring’s ropes as a substitute of behind bars.

“Sadly, after I was a young person, we didn’t have these locations. If at the moment such initiatives had been promoted, maybe a few of my associates would have adopted a unique path,” Marotta mentioned.

In one other church some 200 meters away, there isn’t any sound of thwacks and thumps, however as a substitute the calming tones of a French horn.

Rodrigues’ combating spirit turns to music, as he recites a favourite track – The Gladiator soundtrack’s “Honor Him” –  on his brass instrument. Gaining confidence within the boxing ring might assist him to comply with his desires of changing into knowledgeable musician.

Writing by Emily Roe; modifying by Emelia Sithole-Matarise