Baltimore’s Motivational Champ Turned His Life Around, Leads Boxing Workout Classes
Boxers Errol Spence Jr. and Yordenis Uga competed in the ring on April 16, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. According to ESPN, Spence reigned victorious after a 10th-round technical knockout. Uga is a Cuban boxer who was left with a fractured eye from the hard-fought battle. Brendan Lee—a Baltimore-based, certified boxing trainer and coach— knows that National Physical Fitness & Sports Month is prime time for anyone to get in shape through boxing without giving and taking brutal hits.
The sport which is gaining popularity in the lives of everyday people can offer an excellent way to improve mental and physical health. The sport is not only reserved for seasoned boxing professionals like Spence and Uga. Lee has been training novice boxing enthusiasts for a year. He works clients out at Onelife Fitness Hunt Valley, located in Cockeysville, Md.
“You can get to the shape of your dreams literally in six weeks,” Lee said. “Most people that I train have no desire to ever get in the boxing ring. Some lawyers, doctors, accountants, they just simply want to release some stress and get fit while doing so.”
A boxing ring is not required for Lee to make his clients feel the burn. He pumps up the fitness challenge by integrating the use of boxing gloves; heavy bags; boxing mitts; medicine balls; jump ropes; free weights; and other items. The space holds up to 15 people who want to take Brendan’s fitness challenge. Classes are fifty minutes long.
Although Lee is a fitness enthusiast, he brings other elements of his journey to the conversation. His motivational speaking, community activism, and work as a behavioral specialist shaped who he has become as a leader. An earlier aspect of Lee’s story begins at the age of 17, when he used boxing to release internal anger and push his mind, body, and soul. While growing up in Park Heights, Lee once dreamed of becoming a professional boxer. Getting shot prevented him from pursuing the sport after a robbery gone bad.
Despite selling drugs at the age of 12 years old, and joining a gang at the age of 16, Lee found his way back to a straight path. He graduated from an alternative school Called Francis M. Wood High School. Today, Lee has his own nonprofit called Heart To Heart Circles. He serves Baltimore City School students, parents, and teachers by conducting workshops to improve building relationships and to improve the staff climate. Mentoring youth and leading large anti-violence rallies are also a part of Lee’s work. Rhonda Richetta, Ted Sutton, and Lee’s sister, Airielle Lewis are among mentors who contributed to his rebirth, in addition to getting shot. During it all, Brenda Rucker’s tough love helped her son.
“I had a mother that never gave up on me and did the best that she could with 10 children,” Lee said. “She even put me in a Scared Straight program,” Lee said.
Lee became a Christian at 22 years old. His life’s journey supports his belief that boxing works every muscle out in a person’s body, in addition to tapping into the brain as well, too. Lee remarked that he never forgot that mental strength is required to persevere through life.
“I always tell people before they start my class, at some point you’re going to want to quit doing this workout,” Lee said. “But if you can push yourself through each class, when life hits, whether it’s schoolwork, real work or obstacles, you won’t quit in real life either because you will be mentally strong enough to overcome each obstacle.”
Elizabeth Maraj said that she once worked with Lee at a school. So far, her schedule has permitted her to take four of Lee’s boxing classes at Onelife Fitness. She felt that physical activity would be good for her. That is when Maraj gave something new a try, after the new gym opened. The Baltimore City resident now plans to stick with boxing to stay fit in more ways than one. Slight weight loss and increased arm definition are just some of the benefits she noticed.
“I definitely get a good workout and… it does a lot for my mental health,” Maraj said. “When I leave class, I feel free,” Maraj said.