In Their Shoes-Khasim Mu'min

“The battle of life is, in most cases, fought uphill; and to win it without a struggle were perhaps to win it without honor. If there were no difficulties there would be no success; if there were nothing to struggle for, there would be nothing to be achieved.” – Samuel Smiles

     I’m from a place where opportunities and chances are rarely given. Where I come from the words of Samuel Smiles speak volumes;  to get what you deserve, it feels like you have to work harder than everyone else to be successful. I want to be great and hope to someday pave the way for future generations of African Americans. Today, opportunities for African Americans are restricted in less affluent neighborhoods. Statistically, we are less likely to succeed. To allude to the analogy outlined by Smiles, I feel as though life for me is a battle uphill while others are running the same race on flat ground. With limited educational opportunities, harsh financial barriers, and a surrounding environment filled with negativity, many people in my neighborhood fall victim to detrimental lifestyles. Knowing this, I’ve always told myself I never want to live just to become part of a statistic.
     Hello, my name is Khasim Mu’min. I’m a 17 year-old African American male born and raised in West Philadelphia. I come from a huge family whose forebearers were generations of black Americans living below the poverty line. The uphill battle I talked about before has always been a challenge for my family. Sometimes chances were presented before them, but for one reason or another they failed to grasp it; potentially out of fear of failure. I wanted to be different. Wanting to be different, I was set on changing the path my family had always settled for; I would rise! As a kid, I faced many challenges. My mother and stepfather did their best to shield my siblings and I, but it’s tough to avoid seeing some of the negativity around me.
     I attended Belmont Charter School through the 8th grade. Belmont was really where I started to put things together. When I started, school wasn’t my top-priority. I liked to joke around in class, get into trouble, and I cared more about sports and social life than my future. All that changed, however, when I sat down with Mr. Sherman. Mr. Sherman was, and still is in charge of behavior support at Belmont Charter School. One day in 5th grade, he told me “if you don’t sit down and think about your life.. you’ll either be dead or in jail before you hit 15.” I remember every word, and I remember the exact way he said it to me. From that point on, I got myself together and straightened up. I began taking school as seriously as I did my sports. I had my head in the books, and I played football and ran track & field. The sport that changed me most, however, was wrestling.
     I began wrestling in 5th grade and thought it was cool because of WWE. But let me tell you, my first practice was nothing like what I watched on television! There were no ropes or  suplexes and it was about the furthest thing from what I saw John Cena doing on my TV. My first year didn’t go as expected and at the end of the year I even considered quitting. My coach, Ed McCabe, talked me into sticking it out however and I was glad I did. Over the next two years, I worked to get better and it paid off! After three seasons, I was invited to wrestle for the BTS Philly Dual Team and my Belmont Tigers. The dual team was challenging and rewarding, but the Belmont Tigers was the team I’ll never forget. We were the best middle school team in Philadelphia and everyone knew it. We were filled with athletes up and down the lineup and coaches Ed McCabe and Nick Sellers got the best out of all of us. They taught me what a hard practice was, how to be a contender, and what it meant to be a good wrestler. Coach McCabe and Coach Nick taught me so much more than just wrestling though; they taught me the importance of life.

“Khasim you have so much potential, you just have to use it to your advantage. You have the potential to go far, and be great.” – Chris Hanlon (Fmr. BTS Executive Director)

“You need to take advantage of these opportunities given to you, opportunities like this don’t come around for young African-American men all the time.” – Huseyn Ahmad (Khasim’s Stepfather)

“It makes me happy to know I motivate you to keep going, and I’ll continue to do that. I want you to remember if no one sees the potential in you, I do! I’m your biggest fan and number one supporter.” – Aziah Gray (Khasim’s Girlfriend)

     Webster’s dictionary defines potential as “latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and can possibly lead to future success or usefulness.” People have always told me I have potential; and to me that potential isn’t limited. In 8th grade, as is the case for all Philadelphia students, I began thinking about high school. My grades were okay but my behavior was a big problem. My attendance was low, I had a bit of a mean-streak, and it was undoubtedly going to affect my ability to get into high school if things didn’t change. In comes Ms. Yuille; my guidance counselor. Ms. Yuille and I spoke plenty in middle school and when we began to speak about high school, her perception of my potential (or lack thereof) was glaringly obvious. I can still clearly remember a conversation with her where she said “You won’t be able to get into the high school of your choice because of your attendance. You might as well get ready to attend West Philadelphia High.” (If you don’t know already, West Philadelphia is not a school you ever want to end up in). These harsh words might have hurt some, but they lit a fire in me. I told Ms. Yuille “Yea, we’ll see about that.” From that point on, I worked as hard as possible not only for myself, but to prove Ms. Yuille wrong. She didn’t see my potential, and that was her loss; because I saw it in myself.
     In all honesty, I wasn’t sure what school I was going to at the time but I knew it wouldn’t be West Philadelphia High. I was denied by many schools because of attendance, but I ended up being accepted to Palumbo High school in South Philadelphia. While I was definitely proud, I wasn’t satisfied and wanted more. In comes The Phelps School. Phelps School is a boarding school for boys in Malvern, PA. When the opportunity first became available, I thought about saying ‘no’. I was hesitant about an all-boys school, leaving Philadelphia, and fitting in at a boarding school. That was when I sat down with my stepdad Huseyn. He sat me down and said:

“Think about the opportunities that have just been handed to you. Is this something you wanna pass up? With these opportunities you are destined to go far, and do anything you put your mind to. Think about it like this, Kha. How many boys your age and skin color get a chance like this? Not too many, too few. You can’t pass this up. Go for it. Take advantage of this opportunity Khasim.”

       With financial aid from the Phelps School that would follow me through my high school years and tuition assistance from Beat the Streets Philadelphia, I came to the realization that this was an opportunity I had to take advantage of. As I mentioned above, my family had opportunities they had missed out on in the past and I couldn’t afford to make that same mistake. The day after speaking with my stepfather I signed my papers and made the leap into the next phase of my life.
     In the Fall of 2015 I started my freshmen year at The Phelps School. I met kids from 18 different countries, picked up new languages, and learned different traditions. I was surprisingly comfortable with the dorm life and found it easy to be myself with everyone. That’s when the staff started to notice my leadership ability. Two months into school I was already being recognized for my character. At the Phelps School there are awards for academic success success and behavior. Commendations, Merit, and Lion’s Pride (in that order) are the three highest awards students are given each quarter. After maintaining high grades, showing respect to all, and continuing to lead others in the right direction I was awarded commendations and merit in consecutive semesters. Going forward, my goal is to earn Lions Pride before graduating. At the end of the year I was elected Class President. Sports was went well. I finished my freshmen year with great grades.
     This past year was my sophomore year and I learned a lot! I served as proctor in my dorm, South Beattie. At Phelps, being proctor is having leadership in and out the dorm and ensuring that the rules are followed. Despite initial doubts, many staff members told me “it would be a great opportunity, and something I should consider doing.” Those words again reminded me of the time I was given the opportunity to attend Phelps. I ended up accepting the position and it went very well for me. Being proctor was easy for me. I used my natural leadership ability to my advantage and students listened to me because they respected me. I made situations easy for everyone. Additionally, I also served as Class President my sophomore year. Being Class President is tough. I had to make decisions not just for myself, but for my whole class. I made it work. I was also inducted into National Honors Society. I made this possible by maintaining high grades, showing growth, continuing with my leadership roles. Before, this was something I thought was impossible for me; in fact, I never even considered this as a goal for myself. I faced some obstacles during my sophomore year, mostly in wrestling. My main issue was weight management, and more specifically, laziness. I didn’t hit the gym like I was supposed to. On top of that, an eye injury kept me out of the lineup for a good part of the season. After finally making it back, Coach Miles told me I had two options; sitting on as a backup at 195 or competing up at 220. The decision was easy for me, I wanted to wrestle! PA State tournament came quickly and after only three weeks back on the mat I had some doubts about my preparedness. The first day I went 2-1 and the second day I went 2-2, finishing the tournament in 7th place. Although I didn’t do as well as I had hoped, I know I can get better. Next year, my goal is to place top 5! I accomplished so much my sophomore year, but it wouldn’t be possible without the right people backing me. I’m really excited for the 2017-18 school year and all the possibilities.
     It’s a blessing to be where I’m at today. I overcame many obstacles throughout my life. Some people doubted me, stood in my way, or tried to knock me down but I persevered. I was raised in one of the toughest neighborhoods of Philadelphia. I never thought I’d make it to where I am today, yet here I am. For generations, my people have tried finding ways out. My people have looked for opportunities that won’t come because the system isn’t built in way that gives them a fair shake. The freedoms that all people should be afforded just don’t exist for the people in my neighborhood right now. By the grace of God, I was blessed enough to receive chances and opportunities. I wasn’t supposed to make it. The system didn’t want this. The system labels me a monster and a failure. I’ll give them the monster, but I refuse to be a failure. I’m a beast. A beast who will do whatever it takes to be successful. A beast who’s destined for greatness. I’m not a failure now, nor will I ever be. Society fears me. Society fears for a young African American man gaining power; they don’t want that. It will happen, it’s only a matter of time; I’ll get there for sure. I’ve been through pain and struggle. I’ve fallen down and gotten up time and time again. I know I’m destined for greatness. I’m going to make it out and leave behind a legacy my family can be proud of. Y’all wanted to know who I am, well now you know. My name is Khasim Mu’min, and this is my story.

Note from Beat the Streets Philadelphia
Khasim’s story is an incredible one; but he’s not alone. With over 1,200 wrestlers actively in wrestling programs throughout Beat the Streets Philadelphia, there are countless kids who like Khasim, have the drive and just need the opportunity to be great. With the support of our incredibly generous donors, we have been able to ‘Alter Life’s Trajectory’ for thousands of boys and girls; but we can do more with your help. Whether it’s choosing to give through our donate now page or as a coach and/or mentor by contacting us at, the bottom line we can always use your help!

BTS Wrestlers All-American at Fargo

This month, wrestlers from all across the country made their pilgrimage to Fargo with hopes of returning home a national champion. The tournament features both styles of Olympic wrestling; freestyle and greco-roman. To qualify for Fargo, individuals must place in the top 3 at their freestyle and/or greco-roman state tournament.
This year, Beat the Streets Philadelphia was represented by two athletes; Miles Lee (SR) of South Philadelphia High School and Angel Garcia (FR) of Marianna Bracetti Academy. Both wrestlers qualified for the championships in both styles and entered their respective campaigns at Fargo with high hopes to return home with some hardware.
Miles Lee, a recent graduate of Mastery Charter High School had an extremely successful folkstyle season to cap off his high school career and hoped that success would translate into freestyle success. Miles finished his senior season wrestling for South Philadelphia High School as a section, district, and regional champion (Philadelphia’s first). At the PIAA State Tournament, Miles wrestled his way to an astounding 5th place finish; the highest finish at the PIAA State Tournament for any Philadelphia Public League wrestler in history.
At Fargo, Miles competed in both styles and returned home a double All-American. Miles competed at a tough weight class, but was able to beat some tough opponents and make history by being the first Fargo finalist in Philadelphia wrestling history! He recorded technical falls in each round until his semi match against two-time Georgia state champion & #10 in the nation, Matthew Waddell. Despite being overlooked, Miles bested Waddell by a score of (6-2), securing his spot in the finals against #1 Jacob Warner. After ultimately coming up short in a tough bout, Miles finished his freestyle campaign as up a national runner-up. Miles competed in the greco-roman as well; taking home a 6th place finis.
Angel Garcia, a rising sophomore from Mariana Bracetti Academy had a phenomenal rookie season. As a freshman, won a sectional title, placed 3rd at the district tournament, and 5th at the northeast regional tournament. This offseason, Angel has worked day in and day out to get better, and it showed out at Fargo. In freestyle, he recorded technical falls into the quarterfinals where he lost a tough match against fellow freshman and Utah state champion Mckay Foy. After being eliminated from the championships, Angel battled back though the consolations but eventually fell short of the podium after losing to Iowa state runner-up Skyler Noftsger. Despite falling short in freestyle, losing in the blood round, Angel saw an opportunity in greco to redeem himself. He blew through all of his opponents until the semifinals; where he met Dalton Andrist, a wrestler at Minnesota-powerhouse Stewartville High School. Angel lost (6-1), dropping him directly to the consolation semifinals where he defeated Jacob Nolan, a New York 4th place finisher. Angel defeated Nolan and earned an opportunity to battle for the 3rd place. Angel cruised through his consolation final with ease, recording a tech fall (10-0) against California standout Marcos Jimenez.
Both Miles and Angel made us very proud this freestyle season. Both student-athletes worked extremely hard to get better and truly earned everything they’ve accomplished. Both will undoubtedly continue to work hard and make all of us at Beat the Streets proud. This fall, Miles is preparing to attend Millersville University and Angel is preparing to enter his sophomore year at MBA. If they both continue to work like they have these past few months then the sky’s the limit for both of them. If you want to see all of their results, check out Flo Wrestling here! Miles competed as a junior, while Angel competed as a cadet.
If you want to assist Beat the Streets in creating these opportunities for as many kids as possible in the future, check out our donation page here.

Coach Development – October 21st

On October 21st, Beat the Streets will be hosting a coach development meeting for all Beat the Streets coaches. Hosted by Pennsylvania Regional Training Center Head Coach, Brandon Slay, all who attend will have the opportunity to learn technique from a world-class coach, ask questions, and ultimately offer the best possible programming to your wrestlers! More information (i.e. time, location, etc) will be announced soon. If you want to receive updates about this event, fill out this form

Beat the Streets Open House

On Friday, August 18th Beat the Streets-Philadelphia will host it’s 1st Semi-Annual Open House! From 10am-2pm all are invited to visit our newly renovated Mentoring Center, meet our new Executive Director James Mangan, new Mentoring Director Ben Reiter, and many of our volunteer mentors. The afternoon will be capped off with an generous donation of laptops courtesy of 1SEO and the re-opening of the Mentoring Center for the 2017-18 school year!
Yes, I want to attend the BTS Open House!

In Their Shoes – Ron Palmer

My name is Ron Palmer. I am a 2016 graduate from Mariana Bracetti High School where I was a 4-year wrestler, 3-time Public League champion, 2-time District 12 champion, and MBA’s first 1st 2-time Academic All-American. Currently, I go to Kutztown University of Pennsylvania where I’m a member of the wrestling team and I’m majoring in Marketing.
Beat the Streets has contributed a lot to my success both on and off the mat. School wasn’t always my top-priority, but my mentors worked with me and taught me how important an education was. They taught me how to stay organized, helped me to develop good study habits, and showed me how to set personal goals. The lessons they taught me over the years are a big reason I was so successful in the classroom and I give those guys a lot of credit for helping me to become the student I am today. But my mentors didn’t just help me to become a better student, they helped me become a better man. Life-lessons about hard-work, dedication, and standing up for your beliefs were just a few of the deeper conversations I had with my mentors, and some of the things they taught me will stay with me forever. To put it simply, Beat the Streets gave me the tools and the opportunity to succeed; and that was all I ever needed!
 The things I learned from my wrestling career with Beat the Streets are things I want all the kids who come from my neighborhood to have. Laying the blueprints for other youth wrestlers so that they can follow in my footsteps is something that continues to motivated me as I continue to be involved with Beat the Streets. Although I’m nearly two and a half hours away during the school year, I still give back as much as possible while I’m in college. When I’m home, I head over to practice at MBA or PAL or stop by the Mentoring Center to see what the kids are up to. When I came through, there was no ‘wrestling culture’ in Philadelphia; but now, I’m a part of the culture that’s emerging. Because of my success on the mat and in the classroom, I know that I’m a role model to many of these younger kids and I don’t ever want to let them down. 
After graduation, I plan to stay hands-on as much as possible and show kids all that is possible with just a little confidence. Anything is possible with God by your side and the right support system in place. Beat the Streets gave me the support I needed to believe in myself, fight for what’s mine, and be successful. I’m not done though. I’m going to keep working, keep getting better, and continue to be someone the next generation of Beat the Streets wrestlers can be proud of!