07/02/2013 04:33 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'Frankie's Gym' Owner Helps Cape Town Gangsters Reshape Their Lives (VIDEO, PHOTO)

A poverty and gang-afflicted South Africa suburb is seeing brighter days ahead thanks to the efforts a man and his backyard gym.

Frank Hendricks opened Frankie's Gym in 2008 in response to the rising tide of bloodshed on the streets of Rusthof, a neighborhood in Cape Town.

His own son was stabbed 12 times while attempting to protect a girl from members of the "School Boys," a local gang. But instead of pressing charges against the boys, Hendricks' son convinced him to help them.

"My son said to me: 'Don't send those boys to jail, Daddy,' and I did what he asked," Hendricks told Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper.

He began a conversation with the boys about why they turned to violence and thought up an innovative solution. An avid body-builder and coach, Hendricks used his own money to open up a small gym in his backyard where the young men could work on themselves and stay out of trouble.

Story continues after photo.

Frankie's Gym now has 80 regulars, according to the Mail & Guardian, many of whom credit "Uncle Frankie" with turning their lives around. Some have even gone on to compete in bodybuilding competitions.

"I have known Uncle Frank for many years, and I always respect him," Mark April, a regular at Frankie's, told the paper. "Keep out of crime and keep out of jail. It's not the way."

Whatever equipment the gym offers is provided and maintained by Hendricks free of any cost for attendees. Payments for repairs come out of his pension fund, though he hopes to continue improving the facilities.

"If there's one thing that I want for my gym it's to build a canopy over the yard," he said. "It is just so hot during the summer and when it rains it is impossible to use."

Earlier this year, Reddit started a Crowdtilt campaign to help Hendricks get his canopy. The campaign raised more than $2,000.

H/T: Via Reddit / Uplifting News



11 Inspiring Olympians