Karim Mayfield’s life has come full circle.
Arrested for marijuana at age 18, Mayfield now owns his own legal cannabis store, Authentic 415, in his hometown of San Francisco.
As a young Black man, Mayfield’s arrest more than two decades ago could have dramatically limited his opportunities for a better life, but a chance visit to a local boxing gym set him on a path to winning the San Francisco Golden Gloves and later, the North American Boxing Organization junior welterweight championship.
Mayfield boxed professionally for more than a decade, but after retiring, he began looking at opportunities in the cannabis industry. He turned to the Success Centers in the Fillmore District, and under the guidance of program manager Angela White, he found the resources he needed to receive a license to open Authentic 415. White’s guidance also helped him find transparent partners (the Shryne Group, owners of the Authentic chain of dispensaries) that reflect his own interests.
“Coming to this business and looking at the companies and the type of people who are really running the industry, a majority are rich, older white men,” Mayfield says, “so of course I had my guard up. Being in the boxing industry, I have seen a lot of people who say what they are going to give you and then they never follow through, or it just wasn’t what they said it would be.”
The licensing process took nearly four years, the bulk of which was spent sorting through the minutia of regulations, getting the language right on applications and deciphering the ins and outs of San Francisco’s social equity program. The pandemic also pushed back construction, but Mayfield finally opened Authentic 415, which he says is like “walking into a Gucci store,” at the end of January 2021.
On top of hiring from within the community, Mayfield has pledged annual support to the New Community Leadership Program, an organization that provides civics education, and United Playaz, a violence prevention and youth development organization. He’s also funding his own charity, Soul Champs, a free program that combines boxing with mentorship and meditation to help inner-city youths.
“I’m just doing what I can do to help change their lives in any capacity,” Mayfield says. “I did that in the past with my boxing career and now I feel like I have a larger platform to do more for the people.”
— Patrick Wagner