When Kelvin Seabrooks, 50, was growing up in north Charlotte, he never dreamed he would become a world champion boxer.
Seabrooks, one of seven children, moved from place to place and even slept in an abandoned apartment building at times, but he found his escape in boxing.
Seabrooks started boxing with the local Police Athletic League at age 11.
“It kept me busy, off the streets and out of trouble,” Seabrooks said.
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Although he did not want to box at first, he soon discovered he was good at it. “I won my first fight,” he said.
Seabrooks went on to win four N.C. Golden Gloves championships.
A highlight of his boxing career was winning a bronze medal at the 1980 Olympic trials; however, he didn’t get to go to the Olympics. President Jimmy Carter boycotted the Summer Olympics in Moscow that year to protest the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Seabrooks turned professional in 1981.
In 1987, Seabrooks won the United States Boxing Association bantamweight championship, but gave up his title to compete in the world championship. He became the International Boxing Federation world bantamweight champion that year with a fifth-round knockout of Miguel Maturana in Cartagena, Colombia.
Seabrooks retired from boxing in 1995 and was inducted into the Carolinas Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003. He now works as a security guard at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and trains boxers. He also gives motivational speeches to students.
Seabrooks encourages students to set goals, stay in school and avoid alcohol and drugs.
“I want to keep kids on the right track, doing the right thing,” Seabrooks said.
Seabrooks is also in the process of establishing a nonprofit organization called Kelvin Seabrooks Sports & Education Center Inc., to provide mentorship, tutoring and recreational programs to help kids succeed.
The center’s mission will be to provide a safe haven in the community for youths to enhance their abilities and skills, leading them on the right track toward the future, said Seabrooks.
Seabrooks lives with his wife in east Charlotte.