Ex-boxer Lamont Ingram giving back to youth after hitting hard time
Former boxing prospect Lamont Ingram has survived hell on earth, which included him losing virtually everything in his life, and now he’s giving back to at-risk youths in Jackson, Tennessee.
Last month, Ingram was selected Most Outstanding Referee of USA Boxing’s 2019 National Junior Olympics.
Ingram’s recovery is nothing short of incredible, especially considering he went from being an outstanding amateur boxer, who competed successfully in national amateur tournaments, to homelessness, blindness in both eyes, two failed suicide attempts and, unfortunately, much more despair.
“I am no longer ashamed of what I went through because it made me the man I am today,” the 38-year-old Ingram said. “My life had been so hard that I was ashamed to talk about it for so long. I now understand that my struggles are my testimony for the next person to see that he or she can make it if they keep trying.
“Boxing is all I knew, but I couldn’t see out of one eye (cornea injury) that developed at the age of 19. I got mad at God and wanted to retire. I got depressed and didn’t understand why this had happened. In 2008, I became homeless the first time with nowhere to go. I lost everything, including my family, and then went (legally) blind in the other eye. Then, God told me to work with children, and I also opened the non-profit halfway house.
“Boxing taught me how to never give up no matter how hard it gets. In 2013, I lost everything for the second time: my business, my family, everything…..and I went homeless again. But I never gave up! The following year, when everyone said it was over for me, God gave me everything back times two. I lost the building I was in, but eventually I found another building. I had no money and I lost that building in 2013. God gave it back to me in 2016, when the man who bought it, gave it back to me. Now, I have the only two Federal and State halfway houses in Tennessee for special and general populations with more than 50 beds. I’m mostly at capacity all the time with men who have done 50 years calendar down to those who have done five years.”
Ingram operates the Second Chance “New Beginning” Halfway House and Homeless Shelter, as well as the Team Ingram Boxing & Mentoring Program.
Lamont started boxing when he was 14, because he used to be severely bullied to the point of having his head smashed into a brick wall, thrown into a garbage can, and jumped on repeatedly by others. Ingram’s mother sent him to a boxing coach, Rayford Collins, which turned out to be arguably the most life-changing moments of his life.
“I liked boxing,” Lamont remembered. “I wasn’t the best boxer, but I did beat some good boxers. I was a very determined young man, though. I was 58-10 with 35 knockouts as an amateur boxer. I got my special education high school diploma and later I graduated from Kaplan University with a 3.7 GPA in Business and Chemical Dependency.
“Most kids (in the boxing program) can’t afford the fee to our summer camp or boxing program going on right now. We give them a free breakfast and lunch. I really enjoy this, but I would have never thought that I’d be doing what I’m doing.”
Team Ingram Boxing Club & Mentoring Program was founded in 2017, after Ingram’s long battle associated with him not wanting anything to do with boxing, because he believed God had done him wrong for taking away from what he loved to do and was good at, boxing. When his amateur coach, Collins, died in 2016, Lamont decided to take a larger role at the gym, to the point he was there every day.
“For some reason I wanted to be part of it and help like my coach had helped save my life,” Ingram explained. “Boxing helped me. My coach was very firm, strict and very disciplined, but he loved us and wanted only the best for us. We have so many success stories that range from those that nobody could handle, to those who had F’s in school, plus those who had no hope at all. These youths are my world; I see myself and I know that change is possible, because I changed.
“The ultimate goal of my program is to instill life skills that will go with each young person throughout their individual lives like it has for me. I understand that not everyone will be an Olympic champion, or make the USA Olympic Team, become national or world champion. They can be a piece that sows the seed that never departs the one they sowed it to.”
Ingram has been a registered USA Boxing coach and official for three years. After becoming a level 2 official, he was chosen to referee the final day of the 2018 Eastern Qualifier, a rare feat for a relatively inexperienced official, to say the least. In 2019, he judged at the Western Qualifier and ranked No. 9 out of 100, which is an unheard-of accomplishment for a level 2 official.
“Boxing saved my life and it changed my life,” Ingram claimed. “I had a bad anger problem. I wouldn’t listen and I was disrespectful to my parents and authority figures. I stayed in trouble, on intensive probation, or locked up in juvenile detentions centers.
“I am a respectful, humble and dedicated official who loves boxing and watching people achieve their goals. People always told me what I couldn’t do; boxing showed me what I could do.”
And countless young men and women in Tennessee and the mid-South, not just Lamont, are the beneficiaries today of Lamont Ingram’s truly remarkable metamorphosis.