Coach Mack & Son Kendall Mack
Growing up in West Baltimore, Kendall Allison trained with his father nearly every day. From pushups and punches to sprints and shadow boxing, each day was a constant grind—but for Allison, it was also a privilege.
His father is Coach Mack Allison III, known affectionately as Coach Mack, and was a longtime trainer for Upton Boxing Center, part of Baltimore’s Department of Recreation and Parks.
Last summer, after 16 years at Upton, Mack Allison finally fulfilled his dream of opening a gym he could call his own. With the help of his pastor, David Biggers, he opened Time 2 Grind Boxing Gym, located at Transforming Life Church of God on Sipple Avenue in northeast Baltimore.
“At Time 2 Grind, they can expect discipline, high self-esteem and character,” said Mack Allison. “They can come in and feel like they’re just as good as the person before them or the next person coming behind them.”
Mack grew up boxing and competing in martial arts, and has been a coach for most of his life. Even as a teenager, he would train eight-year-olds. When Mack Allison had four kids of his own—Kendall, Maya, Mack IV and Antoina—his service to Baltimore’s youth didn’t stop; he made sure everyone received the same attention.
Coach Mack & Boxers
“I told my kids when they were younger that they would have to share me with other kids. They weren’t selfish, so that’s a great thing right there,” he said.
Coach Mack’s oldest son, Kendall, chose basketball over boxing at age 10, partly because he didn’t want to “mess up face.” Two years ago, when Kendall decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps and become a coach, Mack was taken by surprise.
“I actually put the ball in his hands,” he said. “When he told me he was coaching basketball, I kind of smiled. It’s special that it rubbed off from me to him.”
Kendall received a Facebook message from William Russell, the head basketball coach at Benjamin Franklin High School, asking him to join its coaching staff.
“I had never thought about the idea, but I wasn’t going to shy away from it,” said Kendall, who still plays for the Bay Area Shuckers in the American Professional Basketball League.
Assistent Coach Kendall Mack & Ben Franklin HS Basketball Team
The Ohio Valley University graduate embraces his new role as assistant coach for the Benjamin Franklin Bayhawks, who won the Baltimore City Division II championship in his first year.
Despite being raised by one of Baltimore’s most recognizable trainers, Kendall said he has a completely different coaching style than his father.
“To be honest, I don’t even try to mimic his style, as far as being aggressive,” he said. “The game is basketball is simple; the only thing is getting the guys to believe in themselves. We’re trying to build not just a basketball team, but we’re trying to build a brand of young men.”
Although their coaching styles may differ, the father and son share the same unwavering love for the Charm City and the youth who will determine its future.
“People know that I’m from right here in the city,” said Mack. “Hopefully I can bring some more kids up to let them know that just because you grew up in the projects, or in the inner city, doesn’t mean that you just have to be a statistic.”
According to Kendall, Baltimore is a “beautiful struggle.”
“The thing about Baltimore is you never back down from a challenge,” he said. “So when you challenge their minds, a lot of guys will rise up to the occasion.”