Despite best efforts, the future was beginning to look bleak for the Hubtown Boxing Club.
With the demolition of the former Princess Margaret Rose School set to take place, the club was forced to find a new home. But the search wouldn’t be an easy one, mainly because the club preferred a space that had at least 2,000 square feet and they didn’t have a lot of money as a non-profit.
Having exhausted many avenues, Peter Allen, coach of the Hubtown Boxing Club, admits they were running out of options quickly.
Then, a conversation with customer John Stoker changed everything.
“John had an idea we were looking for space,” Allen says. “He asked me one day if we had found anything and I told him no. He asked what we would need for space because he had a building in North River that we were more than welcome to look at. We actually jumped in our vehicles and came to look at the space.”
The layout of the building posed some issues, but Allen was able to see beyond that. Not long after walking through the doors, he knew he was looking at the new home for the Hubtown Boxing Club.
“I’m not sure everyone immediately agreed with my choice,” Allen laughs. “I was one of the people who could see the potential early. Plus, John basically gave the building to us to use and told us we could do whatever we needed to make it fit. He basically gave it to us to use. We pay the expenses.”
Open space was the most important requirement for the club. Allen says they wanted a building that would allow them to set up a ring.
In order for that to happen, some work had to be done.
“We had to tear down a couple of walks to make room for it,” Allen says. “But it’s in there. We also had to make a few alterations to make sure we could hang our heavy bags. The building already had a washroom and a shower so that was an added bonus. There’s also more space toward the back of the building, but at this point I don’t think we need to use any of that.”
The new location is in the Paul Davis Systems building, 325 Highway 311 in North River. Allen recognizes the fact the club no longer being in town might be viewed as a disadvantage, but he doesn’t see it that way. He says most of the club’s current members are already travelling to attend practice.
“This spot is far better than what a lot of other clubs are using,” Allen says. “We were in Newfoundland and one of the clubs there was training in a gymnasium. They were actually setting up equipment and then tearing it down every night. They didn’t even have a ring. I know several clubs that are currently operating with less than 500 square feet of space, so we’re doing pretty well.”
Work to transform the space, which included a few coats of paint, began near the end of September. While most of the heavy lifting has been completed, Allen says they’ll continue to tinker with the layout over the next few months.
Liam Boyd is a boxer at the club. He joined two years ago after noticing some flyers at a local flea market. The following day, he showed up.
As the search for a new club continued, he too worried about what the future looked like. Now, that has changed.
“I like the new boxing club because it looks really cool,” says the 11-year-old Boyd.
On Nov. 10, those interested in joining the club got to see just how cool it is when it hosted an open house.
While Allen understands people can jump to conclusions when it comes to boxing, he encourages anyone who is interested to simply come out and get some information.
“There’s a variety of reasons people box,” Allen says. “Yes, there is an option to box competitively, but that’s not for everyone. We have adults who come out and they use the club to help with conditioning and training while others are thinking about learning some self-defence skills.”
In terms of competitive boxing, Allen says they’re looking for youth between the ages of 10 and 13 years old mainly because it takes years to develop the necessary skills to box at a high level. However, he says the club is willing to work with anyone interested in doing something different.
Many parents might cringe when thinking about signing their kids up for boxing. Liam’s mother, Heather, was one of them. But she says the level of guidance and instruction helps ease any concerns she has.
“I do find it tough at times to watch him in a bout, but he trains very hard and I know deep down he can handle it,” she says. “I’ve actually been in the ring myself so it gives me real perspective. The sparring is very controlled so I really have no worries. Plus, Liam is at an age where electronics and gaming is a big draw, so boxing is a great way to keep him active. It’s also been a good outlet for him and is teaching him to channel his emotions in a healthy way.”
Boxing, considered the “poor man’s sport” costs very little and the club provides all the gear necessary. In the past, it’s also provided expenses for boxers who had to travel.
The Hubtown Boxing Club is open Monday through Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. Those who missed the open house are encouraged to stop by and they can actually give boxing a try free of charge for the first week.
Additional information is available by visiting Hubtown Boxing Club on Facebook.