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Fighters for World Boosts Battle for Kids

The nonprofit arm of Finish Strong Mixed Martial Arts expands and recruits a prestigious board of directors.

The Finish Strong Mixed Martial Arts training center on Los Molinos has expanded into the space that once housed Guillobel Brazilian Jiujitsu Academy, and its nonprofit arm is growing as well.

As Finish Strong put the finishing touches on its expanded gym, workers added a study room with computers donated by Southern California Edison to help Finish Strong's Fighters for the World nonprofit work with kids in San Clemente.

Spokesman Jeremy Madrid said the nonprofit offers youths free training in boxing, wrestling, Muy Thai, kickboxing, jujitsu and cross training, but only if they maintain high academic standards.

Students must bring in report cards to show they're doing well in their classes. And the study lab at the gym is based on a model developed by the Boys & Girls Clubs to keep kids from surfing the Web instead of studying, Madrid said.

Periodically, North Beach Nutrition and Mission Hospital test the kids' body mass and other indicators to measure progress against obesity--one of Fighters for the World's targeted problems, along with gang violence, school dropouts, depression and drug use, Madrid said.

Forty kids are enrolled in the program now, but the nonprofit has worked with more than 1,000 since it incorporated in 2008, Madrid said.

San Clemente Mayor Jim Evert recently signed on to be a member of Fighters for the World's board of directors, as has Mario Rodriguez, a former advisor to President George W. Bush on Hispanic issues and animator Erick Tran, who has worked on such shows as The Simpsons and King of the Hill.

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