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Kolmarge Harris


Lansing Spartans Youth Organization

901 E. Oakland
Lansing, Michigan 48906
As someone who grew up on the streets of Chicago, Kolmarge Harris knows first hand the challenges urban kids face. After retiring from a 20-year career as a professional boxer, Harris started Lansing Spartans Youth Organization to combine his love for boxing with his desire to mentor at-risk youth in his community.
Michigan Nightlight: What does being a leader mean to you?
Lansing Spartans Youth Organization CEO Kolmarge Harris: A leader is the person who can take a group, put them together, and get them to work together. I just started, so I’m still learning how to lead. I want to show these kids, “If I did it, you can too.” Some people told me I couldn’t succeed with the program, but part of being a leader is having faith that things will work out and God will provide.
What is your dream for kids?
I want to get kids to championships, to the Olympics, to college, receiving scholarships… In three years you’ll be seeing it
I want to get kids to championships, to the Olympics, to college, receiving scholarships…
happen with the kids I’m working with now. I want them to use me, and use the resources I can offer them, to get ahead in the real world. I’ve been out there and I know how tough it can be; they’ll need all the help they can get. 
What is one concrete thing that could be done to improve the environment for social sector work in Michigan?
We need more community support and involvement. If everyone worked together, things would be smooth and golden. Some people’s egos are too big and that prevents them from wanting to cooperate. At one point I had to connect with some gyms out of state because I couldn’t connect in my hometown.
How do you know you’re making progress?
People have been contacting me for articles, so I must be doing something right. I see progress in front of my eyes every day, through the physical changes that take place in the kids like weight loss, toning, agility, etc. I also see progress in attitudes. A teacher of one 14-year-old boy in the program told me that his school performance has really improved. She said, “Mike is
I’m sharing what I’ve learned: that boxing takes a lot of control and skill, and that’s how it is in life.
focused now, not flashing like he used to.” If you can get a kid in a gym every day, you’ll definitely see some positive effects.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud that I’m out there doing something: changing things in the kids’ lives that no one really thought to help them with before. I have a gift and I’m using it. I’m sharing what I’ve learned: that boxing takes a lot of control and skill, and that’s how it is in life. I’m doing something a lot of people thought I couldn’t do, and if I’m lucky, the organization will go on long after I’m gone.
Reflecting on your career, what would you say was your greatest professional learning experience? 
The best lesson I ever learned was that if you don’t listen, you get beat. I could’ve won a world title, but I ignored the advice of my coaches, took a fight I shouldn’t have, and lost. It was a big mistake; I lost everything. I was in shape physically but not mentally. I was cocky and stubborn, and I didn’t listen to people who knew better and could have helped me. I want to help these kids not to make the same mistake I made. 
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Program Profile


  • Lansing Spartans Youth Organization
    The mission of Lansing Spartans Youth Organization is to make available to children and adolescents in the Greater Lansing Area low/no cost individualized fitness programs that motivate, educate and instill a life-changing, life-long bond with ...


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