In MPD officer Victor Mills’ next career he’s giving some north Minneapolis kids a Fighting Chance.

Mills, who is set to retire Saturday after 23 years, is opening Fighting Chance, a boxing gym, at 1704 33rd Av. N. in Old Fire Station 14, with his business partner Ryan Burnet. Burnet is owner of restaurants Burch, Bar La Grassa and Barrio.

Last summer Burnet helped Mills fund a program for kids and would come over and run with the youngsters. When Mills shared his ideas for a facility that helps kids, Burnet told him to take it to the next level. “I don’t have any next-level money,” Mills said. They formed a nonprofit, Fighting Chance. Burnet said his contribution has been sweat equity, not “stroking a check. I’ve gone to different foundations and people in town and raised [money]. It’s been well received.”

“The bottom floor is going to be a boxing gym. Upstairs we have Radiant Life Yoga. A couple of yogis around for a long time are going to open a studio for the community with discounted rates. Free programs throughout the day. We’ll have nutrition. We are preparing responsible good meals for people who come,” said Mills, who also hopes to get Burnet’s restaurants involved.

“We don’t want to put a strain on restaurants and people but what we would like to do is, if you have an hour a day that you and your employees can make us 20 to 30 meals, we’ll pick them up, refrigerate them and then hand them out to families. Young kids who are cooking their own meals, we’re going to show them how to cook inexpensive, healthy meals; we’re going to have cooking classes. Not only is education important, working out, taking care of your body, you’ve got to do it through nutrition. Organic food has become not affordable to lower-income families. We’re going to try to give them that opportunity just like everyone else has to get organic, responsible foods. That’s part of the big plan. How can you function in school, at work, when you had chips for breakfast?

“I’ve been thinking of what worked for me,” said Mills. “My mom was pregnant with me at 17, had me at 18, dad in and out of prison. My mom worked two jobs; worked in a factory, waitressed. She would try to put good meals every day for me on the table. That made a huge difference in my life. She would tell me, No pop today.”

That rule has been passed along to his 3-year-old, who has never had soda.

“I see kids who need something to do. I was a knucklehead, dropped out of school in the ninth grade, lot of issues. I was a typical knuckleheaded kid with a lack of supervision; turned things around,” said Mills. “Somebody helped me out. My mom took me to a boxing gym when I was younger. Somebody took a chance on me when someone else said, You’re a knucklehead. You dropped out of school, you’re out fighting in the community, using drugs, we don’t want to deal with you.”

Mills’ mom was tough. “I was a sneaky little kid, using drugs at 13, 14 years old because that is what I had seen around me,” said Mills, whose grandparents and aunts helped raise him. “Instead of my mother saying it’s not your fault, she always told me, A lot of things aren’t the best. You don’t have a father, a lot of bad things are going on in your life, but that’s no excuse to continue to do bad things. I’m not going to cover for you. You’re going to have to pay for it.

While there are knuckleheaded kids throughout the metro, Mills said he decided on this community “because there’s no boxing gym, no yoga studio in north Minneapolis. Just like last night, I think there was another homicide off 33rd, just a few blocks from where we’re going to open Fighting Chance. We’re not trying to turn out champion boxers but champion kids who become good adults.”

 

It’s No. 2 for AP’s wife

Finally, confirmation that Ashley Peterson, Adrian’s missis, is pregnant with their second child. A baby boy is reportedly due in October.

When I saw her at a U.S. District Court appearance in February, she looked fuller about the stomach. I’ve had sources in Texas on the lookout for Mrs. Peterson, in hopes of confirming what she told ESPN about again being with child.

 

C.J. can be reached at cj@startribune.com and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count. Attachments are not opened.