TOLEDO (WTOL) - Back in September, Jada Ruffin was faced with something unexpected.
“My best friend for three years, she beat me up because... we don’t know why," Ruffin said. "When it happened I was scared because I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t know how to defend myself.”
Jada’s friend held her up by her neck, beating her head into the brick wall of a park building repeatedly.
“Really what I thought is ‘She’s going to kill me,’" Ruffin said. "I was like, ‘This is a brick wall and she’s not going to stop.’”
The incident put Jada in the hospital with a concussion and bruises, and left her mom looking for answers.
“After it happened and I was in the emergency room, my mom told me, she’s like, ‘Jada we needed to find a way to defend yourself,’” Ruffin said.
Her solution came shortly after Extreme Results owner Vince Ceniceros heard her daughter’s story.
“I’ve always wanted to do it and I tried to do it before and it just didn’t go because that bullying word wasn’t around back then," Ceniceros said. "But I understand giving them the confidence to know how to protect themselves is huge.”
Vince partnered with pro boxing trainer Lamar Wright to start B.A.B.E. or Boxers Against Bullying Everyone.
“It’s not violence against violence, we’re teaching children how to protect themselves against the violence,” Ceniceros said.
Wright has spent 14 years training some of the best pro boxers in the world.
But for him, combating bullying hits close to home.
“A lot of people don’t know my story, but I was actually bullied, and that’s how I found boxing," Wright said. "So someone gave me the tools to be to defend myself in situations if I ever needed to. So I wanted to give back to kids who didn’t know how to stick up for themselves.”
Lamar's childhood memories are still distinct.
“I just go back to when I was seven or eight years old. I used to have to take the long way to school every day because if I took the shortcut, I had to run into the twins at the end of the block who enjoyed bullying me and one of my childhood friends," Wright said. "So my father made my mother put me in a boxing program. I stayed away for about six months, and then one day I said I’m taking the shortcut. And I took that shortcut and I was never bullied again after that.”
According to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, nationwide, 28 percent of students in grades six through 12 experience bullying.
Another 70 percent say they’ve seen bullying in their schools.
So for Vince and Lamar the goal is simple – instill confidence in kids.
“If I can save one kid from getting bullied or getting injured or getting killed and give him or her the confidence to protect themselves, I’m happy,” Ceniceros said.
“I give all my fighters when they need the confidence builders, I got to give them the speeches," Wright said. "So I get to do the same thing I get to do and with the top fighters of the world, I get to give it to these guys.”
Just a few short weeks into the program, Jada has already felt a change.
She went from questioning herself, to being fearless walking through the halls of school.
“What I always thought was, ‘What is wrong with me that I have to get bullied?’” Ruffin said. “After I took the first class, I feel more confident in the fact I know I can defend myself now,” Ruffin said.
With the ultimate goal of putting an end to bullying, Lamar says he wants to work with more than just those being bullied.
“I want to work with the bully and I want to work with the kids who are being bullied, so we can bring them together and make unity," Wright said. "You don’t have to be that way in life.”
Knowing bullying spans all ages, Lamar and Vince welcome kids and adults to the classes.
Currently, the classes are three nights a week -- Tuesday and Wednesday at 8 p.m. and Friday at 7 p.m.
The first week is free.
You can either show up to Extreme Results on Secor Road or message Vince on Facebook.