For seven years the Lethbridge Boxing Club was training in a shared gym. The sparring area was small and they could only practice three days a week.
“We needed to find a space that we could be everyday, training,” Boxing Club Head Coach Rick Duff said. “That’s what you need these days to be even more competitive.”
Knowing his athletes needed an upgrade, Duff found a two-door bay on the city’s north side. The only problem was it needed a lot of elbow grease and funds to renovate.
“I was really, really nervous. I didn’t know how much support I could have,” Duff said.
Despite Duff’s concern, the community jumped on board with the project. Members of the club donated time and money, doing whatever they could to help.
Duff said local businesses helped raise close to $30,000 and in just two months, the space was transformed.
The new Lethbridge Boxing Club was open to the public at the end of January.
“I feel we have support in this community. There were a lot of really good people who stepped up, no questions asked,” Duff said. “If it was financial, or if it was labour, or just support in any way, they were there for us.”
Sponsors like small business owner Al Feldbusch helped pave the way.
“It’s for the kids because they’re only young once and they might as well enjoy their time,” Feldbusch said.
The gym features a variety of heavy and speed bags, an office, bathroom, television and an Olympic-sized boxing ring.
“It was crazy. I was speechless (when I saw it). I was like, ‘Wow, this is our club,’” boxer Tessa Feldbusch said. “I really feel like we’re closer as a family now. You can see people sparring in the ring here. You couldn’t see that before.”
Full-sized murals of legendary boxers are on the walls of the gym.
“After a couple rounds of sparring, you’ll look up and see like Oscar De La Hoya right there and you see how tough of fights he had and then you’re like, ‘Oh I can go an extra round,’” boxer Josh Peck said. “We’re allowed to come in here whenever we want. This is really going to boost everything for us.”
The new look location is already reinvigorating the club. In the last month, it has welcomed 10 new athletes.
“Fifteen years ago we were losing so many boxers,” Duff said. “The athletes just weren’t there and now I’m seeing that the athletes are coming back.”
The Lethbridge Boxing Club is sending five boxers to provincials on Feb. 23 in Stony Plain with hopes of qualifying for Nationals.