November 4, 2013 8:50 pm
Updated: November 5, 2013 12:18 am

Community rallies behind boxing club damaged by fire

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A popular community boxing club benefiting at-risk youth on the Eastside is looking for the public’s help to rebuild after a fire.

This weekend the building housing the Eastside Boxing Club was damaged in a fire and the entire business was demolished, leaving the gym and most of its contents unusable due to extensive smoke and water damage.

It’s believed the blaze started in an office area on the ground floor.

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The boxing club is a not-for-profit, volunteer run gym.  It is one of the oldest Vancouver boxing gyms that was running from the top floor of the iconic Woodland Smokehouse Building on Commercial Drive.

It opened its doors in 2012, attracting youth, coaches and amateur fighters.

The club offered subsidized exercise programs and a safe environment for at-risk youth.  Children as young as 11 participated in the after school programs.

There was also a free women’s only program  designed to empower women who have suffered from abuse and violence.

Assistant head coach Jordan Bowers says there is a great need for the gym in the community.

“We wanted to get a gym going in the Eastside because there is a history of boxing here and it’s a spot where we feel there is a need ….a need in the community where a gym could help out.”

Just last year, more than 100 thousand dollars was raised for the club through Aprons for Gloves boxing association’s restaurant rumble.

Members from the local restaurant community formed teams and raised funds to box one another.

Shay Washburn, a two-time boxing champion, participated in the fundraiser last year.

She is devastated by the loss.

“We’ve worked so hard to get everything going, the gym it took so long, finally made it happen and now we can’t use any of that equipment.”

Both Washburn and Bowers agree that the greatest concern is losing the kids they’ve been working with and the connections they’ve made along the way.

Washburn says the equipment can be replaced but “the worst thing about this is the loss of momentum. We’ve only been in this spot six months”

Volunteers are committed to rebuilding the fitness club as soon as possible.

Washburn and other members say they need the public to help again.

For more information on how you can help, go here.

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