The Dynamic Duo

By Kevin Wilson
Updated: April 17, 2008

MARYLAND – Sitting with Kenneth Barnes, Sr. and Lisa ” Too Fierce” Foster in his Duke Ellington’s penthouse, the duo were elated to share their national interest.

Within seconds, Barnes, the Chief Executive Officer of Root, Inc. went into another area, to chat on his blackberry with Ron Austin, the Clean City Coordinator of the Executive Office of the Mayor, to broadcast their new theme: Knockout Gun Violence.

Barnes met Foster, a former two- time boxing champ, several years ago when she was training for a junior featherweight title fight. They had lost sight of one another for years.

However, during the Root, Inc. inaugural amateur boxing show in 2007 in Anacostia, the two reunited. At that time, Barnes, wisely suggested that he and Foster should promote boxing shows collectively for the betterment of at-risk youth, locally and nationally.

“By bringing some of the children in the ring, instead of shooting up one another, could stop the aggression,” Barnes clarified.

The merge of Root., Inc and Capitol City Champs Boxing/Etiquette owned by Foster occurred this year. Foster happily said, ” We hit it off right away, and as far as collaboration goes, it’s a match made in heaven.”

The second local boxing show at 801 Sheperd Street, N.W. , the old Petworth School- Number 6 Boys and Girls Club on February 2nd was a success, turning out roughly 300 attendees.

The amateur bout featured Asia ” Stick and Move” Stevenson, a 2007 east regional silver gloves champ, who’s a former gang member, now honor roll student and churchgoer, at 15.

“They wanted Asia to be in that show because she’s a electrifying fighter,” said Coach Greg Lowery, from Set It Off Boxing Team. “It’s a great, beautiful idea for Root, Inc. and Lisa to promote boxing shows.”

Every two months, Barnes’ and Foster’s non-profit organizations will promote a boxing show in D.C. “Lisa and I are collaborating on a number of projects, in which, I am extremely jubilant”, said Barnes.

“However, the national scene for boxing shows is our intent.” Barnes concluded.

Their upcoming boxing show will be Saturday, April 19 from noon to 6pm at the Number 6 Police Clubhouse at 801 Sheperd Street, N.W.-D.C..

Root, Inc. have a bill pending in front of Congress produced by Congressman Albert Wynn. Momentarily, the way it looks, Barnes says, the bill- “Community In Action/Public Safety Self Help Initiative Act 2008″ will be introduced by Congressman Bobby Rush.

“This bill concentrates primarily with violence, which is a symptom of the problem, and not the problem itself,” noted Barnes, a clinical psychologist.

On March 27, Barnes and Michelle Smith- Wilson, Root, Inc.’s newly appointed chief of staff traveled to Boston. The two had a meeting with the Boston Police Command Force and Congressman Michael Capuano.

Barnes clearly indicated that his non-profit organization wound up north, largely due to Boston’s model of gun violence being recognized for preventing and reducing gun violence to zero in the late 90′s.

Five days later, he flew back to Boston with his new chief operations officer, Joyce Rayzer, to meet Massachusetts Governor Patrick Deval, the second black governor in the United States.

“The governor already knew about Mr. Barnes and praised him for what he’s doing in D.C., and here in Boston,” says Bill Celester, founder of the Root, Inc.- Boston chapter.

One of the most notable person in the New England chapter is a respected religious leader, Minister Don Muhammad.

An upcoming meeting will take place in Philadelphia with former District of Columbia Chief of Police, Charles H. Ramsey, who is currently the Commissioner of Police.

“Kenny is highly instrumental in trying to curb gun violence in D.C., and I feel Root, Inc. should be on a national level, ” Ramsey told BASN.

Finally happy, Barnes has a management team in place that is efficient and team oriented. That also includes, Sonya Hughes, a business management graduate of Howard University and Othello Mahone, the chief finance officer.

The management transition, in February 2008 Barnes calls divine intervention. Root, Inc. and Capitol City Champs Boxing/Etiquette are preparing for some major events on the local and national scene.

A chapter in Florida is getting ready to start.

In the beginning, Foster faced many hardships. With determination and influenced by her second oldest brother, Mark, she soared like an eagle. A former foster child, she always heard she couldn’t make it.

Her goal was to prove the adversaries wrong. Living up to her own expectations, Foster, the 119-pound World Boxing Syndicate Champ and the International Female Boxing Association titleholder, watched Muhammad Ali by force, at age 8, since it was only one television, and four brothers.

Compiling an 8-5 boxing record, Foster retired in 2003. The idea to help young girls and boys in boxing and with their etiquette skills surfaced during the D.C curfew law.

She acquired a small grant to assist the kids at Kalorama Recreation Center in 2006. The new venue on Sheperd Street officially opened January 1, 2008.

Being able to improvise, Foster, a mother of two, creates her own logo on all business cards, flyers, pens and bottled water, with proceeds going to the organization.

She have four certified trainers, two more are on the way, along with an etiquette director. ” Boxing is a good way to teach a young woman, a form of empowerment, a lesson in life, and mentally, it strengthens you. Once I started boxing, I became invincible. It’s nothing I cannot do” said Foster.

The are many faucets at Root, Inc- the website, television video and a radio show on WPFW 89.3.

“If we can change one life, it will be a big deal,” Foster concluded.

Photos courtesy of Robert Eubanks