DUBLIN (KCBS) – More than a hundred Alameda County Jail inmates received words of encouragement from a boxing champion from the East Bay on Wednesday.

Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward, who grew up in Hayward, was the keynote speaker at a graduation ceremony. The inmates completed a wide range of programs from GED, anger management to drug and alcohol recovery.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

“What you accomplished today is not the end. It’s not the end all be all,” Ward said. “It’s the beginning.”

The 28-year-old, who won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2004 and is the current WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine Super Middleweight Champion, talked about his own struggles as a teenager.

“I took what I was already doing and I used my father’s death as an excuse to take my rebellion to the next level,” he said.

Ward encouraged the men and women to build on what they have accomplished.

Richard Killen of Oakland, who is serving a two-year sentence for 2nd degree robbery, said it was powerful to hear from someone he admires.

“He’s usually aggressive as a fighter. To hear him tell a story and get emotional about it, it’s inspirational to see a person like that come and be able to talk to us,” said Killen.

Santa Rita Jail graduates about 500 inmates from its programs in three ceremonies each year.

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