Corner Team, Inc. Uses Sports To Build Strong Minds, Bodies, And Communities.
We work together with community residents and strategic partners to shape the world's future Champions for Life
In The Press
Corner Team uses Olympic-style boxing to strengthen core competencies that improve academic performance, encourage healthy and active lifestyles, and build strong communities of engaged citizens.
The Vision is clear: building strong minds, bodies, and communities creates champions for life--leaders inspiring positive change.
Corner Team, Inc. is organized around the longstanding and successful tradition of community sports programs that address holistic well being at the neighborhood level to shape Champions for Life! Engagement in any sports activity provides opportunities for social interaction and skill-building within diverse settings. Sports foster pride and increase self-esteem. Sports teach leadership and discipline, and support physical, mental, and social fitness. Through sports, Corner Team, Inc. connects our Champions to local resources, mentors, academic tutoring, economic opportunities, and healthy living strategies that grow tomorrow's leaders and inspire the change we want to see for all.
Founded in 2015 by Professional Boxer, and former Ghanaian, National Champion Michael Gbenga as Corner Team Boxing, we are realizing a greater mission that incorporates sports, community engagement, and social innovation. The new Corner Team, Inc has also expanded our mission beyond a focus on youth to include programs that engage senior citizens and people with disabilities— populations typically overlooked by organized sports programs but equally in need of the benefits that come from active participation in them.
Why are we called the "corner team"?
Corner Team was selected as the name for the small, start-up community-boxing program founded by Professional Boxer Michael Gbenga, from which this organization was born. In the sport of boxing, a fighter’s Corner Team serves as the eyes and ears of the fighter, providing strategy, support, and solid decision-making to ensure that a fighter comes out of his/her bout, a Champion.
The symbolism of the Corner Team’s role translates nicely into the mission and vision for Corner Team, Inc. We are here to use sports to engage, build strong minds, bodies, and communities—to ensure that everyone receives the support, tools, and care needed to successfully compete in all challenges faced in life.
What does it mean to be a Corner Team champion for life?
Everyone who walks through our doors or engages with Corner Team, Inc. are Champions and members of the team! We are inspired by our Champions’ continued pursuit of greatness and support their pursuit through programs and strategic partnerships. In return, we expect our Champions to maintain a level of greatness that allows them to succeed at any challenge they face and in so doing, inspire their families, peers, and surrounding neighborhoods.
Our Corner Team Champions exhibit confidence that they can excel in anything they choose to take on because:
Our Champions are successful in school, in their studies, and carry a thirst for life-long learning
Our Champions make informed and positive decisions about their health and holistic well being
Our Champions serve as positive leaders among their peers and within their communities
who is part of the corner team?
The Corner Team is made up of more than our Champions and organization staff. The Corner Team consists of the entire network of support that ensures the success of our Champions and our programs—our families and friends, our volunteers, community partners, financial donors, and city officials. The Corner Team consists of our neighbors who come out to cheer us on when we pass through the streets, celebrate with us at our events, and reach out to our Champions to let them know that they are proud of their accomplishments!
Corner Team, Inc. staff and volunteers are experts in their fields and bring decades of experience in competitive sports training and coaching, education, mentorship, youth leadership, and program development. Corner Team, Inc. is governed by its Board of Directors according to the organization's Articles of Incorporation and By-laws. We are a diverse group of talented and committed partners, dedicated to ensuring the success of this organization.
Boxing is a blessing for Michael "The Amazing" Gbenga, and has provided him a means to leave Accra, Ghana, travel around the world, and build a fulfilling life. Through his work as a professional boxer, trainer, and manager, and mentor, Michael continues to give back to the sport all that he was afforded, and provide others with the same opportunities.
With an outstanding amateur boxing career under his belt, Michael "The Amazing" Gbenga turned professional in 2001. Within 5 years, Michael won the African Boxing Union's, Light Heavyweight title and fought for the Commonwealth (British Empire) Super Middleweight title. Before shifting his career to the United States, Michael Gbenga clenched the Ghana Light Middleweight national title. In the United States, Michael Gbenga has continued a successful, professional boxing career, taking on names such as Andre Dirrell, Badou Jack, and Derrick Webster!
Coach Abdul-Hadi Winder was born and raised in Southwest Baltimore. He began learning the sport of boxing around the age of 13 through his best friend, Kevin Barber. "Kevin would teach me about boxing but beat me up at the same time. I would tell my mother to tell Kevin that I wasn't home and she would tell him that I was upstairs in my room and to go on up."
Kevin took him to Benny Trotta's gym on East Baltimore Street where he quickly became an up-and-coming amateur boxer who trained under Sam Katz and Bubba Graham. While at Trotta's Gym, he trained with many of the region's legendary amateur and professional fighters. Unfortunately, an unfavorable split between his trainers forced him to join Bubba Graham at Mack Lewis Boxing Gym where he trained under Mack Lewis for a year but slowly moved on to other sports.
Today, Coach Abdul works for the City of Baltimore and gives back to the sport by coaching Baltimore's next generation of fighters. For Coach Abdul, boxing is a way to provide the young people of Baltimore, especially the young Black men and women of his East Baltimore Midway neighborhood to get involved in something positive, life-shaping, and life-changing.
Savannah Thompson is a
devoted mother and wife who grew up in Baltimore Maryland. She is a passionate advocate for the
community and enjoys doing what she can to make Baltimore a better place to live. Savannah is a
graduate of Loch Raven High School and Tesst College of Technology. Education has always been a valued proponent of her life.
Savannah also places high value on giving our youth better opportunities and a positive influence to inspire them to be all that they can be.
2020-2021 Board of Directors
Sara Artes is a life-long resident of the Ednor Gardens-Lakeside neighborhood. Sara worked as a Community Organizer for the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello Community Corporation after graduating from college and then started a career in cultural resource management which has taken her across the country and around the world. For over a decade she has worked in National Parks and now for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Sara and her husband Michael Gbenga, founded Corner Team Boxing, a youth boxing outreach initiative in North and Northeast Baltimore City.
Sara's vision for Corner Team, Inc. is one in which Corner Team, Inc. is a strong community partner and stake-holder that provides state-of- the-art health/wellness facilities and programming to the public. She envisions robust programs that works with dedicated neighborhood residents, teachers, and other professionals to provide resources that ensure academic, leadership, and civic success. She envisions program expansion that continually pushes the boundaries of sports to engage non-“boxing”- traditional communities. Finally, she envisions Corner Team, Inc. as a place for inspiration where new friendships are developed among members and program participants that spread the value of diversity and teamwork. Where teachers, business owners, city officials, and higher education institutions work across disciplines to effectively partner with the organization to support the success of the next generation of society.
Shane Bryan serves as the Assistant Director of JHU SOURCE, the center for community engagement and service-learning at the Johns Hopkins University Health Professional Schools. In this role, Shane advises students and student groups involved in the Baltimore Community, coordinates co-curricular service-learning projects, plans events exploring the history of Baltimore as it relates to social justice and builds upon relationships with SOURCE partnering community-based organizations.
He received degrees in Political Science and Communication Studies at the University of South Dakota. Upon graduating, he served two terms as a Maryland-DC Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA with the University of Maryland, College Park working with a local high school to establish a formal partnership to support the students and the community surrounding the school. After completing his terms of service, Shane worked in the Department of Community Services and Recreation for the City of Hyattsville, a community in Prince Georges County.
Shane is very passionate for local community engagement and politics. He is President of the Ednor Gardens – Lakeside Civic Association, Treasurer of GEDCO Stadium Place, Secretary of the Northeast Community Organization and Vice-President of Corner Team, Inc. Shane enjoys attending events, meeting new people and learning more about the City he calls home, Baltimore.
Shane’s vision for Corner Team Inc. is that it provides a physical space to create and build community around sports and supporting programming. Bringing people together and creating a shared story is lacking in too many neighborhoods across our city. Corner Team Inc. is uniquely positioned to bring neighbor together, to celebrate community and look toward a better tomorrow.