Toronto boxing club breaking down barriers for women of all ages and from all walks of life

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WATCH ABOVE: Savoy Howe is the head coach and founder of the Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club, Canada's first female-owned and trans-positive boxing club. Susan Hay has the story.

In the early 1990s, very few women participated in boxing, but that didn’t matter to Savoy Howe who quickly progressed to competitor from recreational boxer.

Today, Howe is a coach and advocate for the sport and operates her own gym,which she founded more than 20 years ago.

“Toronto Newsgirls Boxing Club is Canada’s first all-female and trans-positive boxing club,” said Howe.

“We provide a safe place for female-identified participants to come and box and use recreational boxing as a form of self-empowerment.”

READ MORE: Toronto boxing program helping people fight Parkinson’s disease

Howe managed to open the doors to this non-traditional sport to more than 1,000 women of all ages and from all walks of life.

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“I think boxing does incredible things for women once they see how powerful they already are,” said Howe.

“It helps them do things in life they only dream of.”

The women’s program is tailored to members who come in with their own goals. It may be to get into better shape with no desire to get into the ring or it may be to become the next professional boxer.

“I moved to Ontario to do my theatre degree — never thinking about boxing — and when I started pounding the pavement as an actor, as a performer, I came out of the closet,” said Howe.

“Thirty years ago, it was not a safe time for gay people. I thought, ‘I’m going to have to have some kind of self defence.’”

Over the years Howe moved on to create a series of workshops for at-risk youth and develop a program for survivors of violence called “Outside the Ring.”

“It serves five different communities,” said Howe.

“People with mobility issues, indigenous community, seniors, new Canadians — really any community that needs it, we’ll do outreach.”

READ MORE: Olympics serve as motivation for local women boxers

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Aside from numerous awards, Howe has been recognized on many levels from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to The New York Times. However, Howe remains humble and dedicated to the sport of boxing.

“Sometimes when I am in the corner yelling at my boxers, ‘Move your head,’ I have this feeling come over me going, ‘How did I get here?'” said Howe.

“And I love it. I’m so happy that I got here.”