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Dusty Harrison made his pro debut in June. His father said Dusty began boxing as a child and has logged thousands of hours in the ring. He said his son “has never even had a busted lip,” but he understands why some parents may be reluctant to let their children take up the sport.

“When I see some of the kids fighting and getting hurt … I used to say if that was my son, I’d never let him box. The only reason I still condone it is because he’s never gotten hurt,” Mr. Harrison said.

On the other hand, Mr. Harrison said, boxing “saved” his son from falling in with the wrong crowd and also has kept him in peak physical condition. While boxing may be dangerous, for teenagers in the District and other inner cities across the country, it’s often better than the alternative, he said.

“They pound each other. If you don’t want your kid doing that, that’s understandable. But do you want him out on the street every night? No. What’s better? I’d take the gym any day,” Mr. Harrison said.