BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer
“I liked how ‘E-Bunny’ won, and I like how his opponent lost,” Jayla Grover, 7, told Robert Easter Jr., IBF World Lightweight Champion, the members of his boxing team, and Councilwoman, Dr. Cecelia Adams, in the chambers of Toledo City Council, One Government Center, in downtown Toledo, on Wednesday, March 1.
“E-Bunny’s fight motivated me to be the best I can be. Since the fight, I started taking up boxing,” Kaniyah Wainwright, 10, said.
Caniecia Arney, the mother of K’Shawn Gilmer, 14, translated her son’s words, as he signed; “A lot of people counted me out because I have a disability. But just like Robert Easter Jr., I stand undefeated.”
One by one, more children walked up to the podium in City Council, reading from their essay they wrote on “Why they’re Champions,” and how seeing the title defense of Robert Easter’s, IBF World Lightweight belt, on February 10, has motivated them.
Dubbed as a, “Champion’s Chat,” the event was organized by the City Park League, a non-profit, grass roots organization that provides activities, and mentorship to central city youth. Montrice Terry, the voice of the organization, said the idea of bringing the children to council originated a couple of months ago, just prior to Robert Easter Jr’s first, title defense on February 10.
He told The Toledo Journal that he, and the organization, put a call out on Facebook looking to get people to sponsor 100 area youth so they could attend the fight. Their campaign was successful, and for many of the youth, it was their first time ever visiting the Huntington Center, where the fight was held, and the first time ever attending a world televised sporting event.
Following the fight, several weeks later, Mr. Terry thought it would be a good idea to, take the children to Toledo City Council chambers, and address Councilwoman Adams, and share their experience. In addition, the children would also meet Robert Easter Jr., and the members of his boxing team called, “The Bunny Team,” and tell them how their successful boxing careers have inspired them.
Dr. Adams told The Toledo Journal, “I would like the kids to leave today knowing that character counts. I want them to be a champion in whatever they’re engaging in, but above all I want them to aspire to be good people.”
She told those in attendance that not only does Robert Easter Jr. have good character, but “He caused 10,000 people to attend the Huntington Center; what other person in Toledo can attract so many people.”
Afterwards, members of “The Bunny Team,” introduced themselves, and commented on what the children had to say.
“This is really an honor,” said James Evans. “We’re going to be the best examples we can,” he said.
“This is an inspiration hearing you all say that we motivate you,” Mr. Easter said. “Being a champion isn’t just about winning; it’s about overcoming obstacles, and being the best at whatever you do, whether in school, music, or art,” he said.