City-funded boxing club aims to reach North End youth

A new boxing gym, complete with two rings and 21 hanging punching bags, is slated to open in Winnipeg's North End this fall.

North End Boxing Club set to open on College Avenue this fall

A city-funded boxing gym is set to open in the North End this fall. (Shutterstock)

A new boxing gym, complete with two rings and 21 hanging punching bags, is slated to open in Winnipeg's North End this fall.

The North End Boxing Club is taking over the 3,000-square-foot Burrows Resource Centre building on College Avenue.

The City of Winnipeg is spending at least $50,000 on the equipment this year, while Pan Am Boxing is providing coaches and trainers to work with young people.

Boxing is a great sport for at-risk young people, said Harry Black, president of Pan Am Boxing, because it helps build character.

"It's such a great thing for people to be involved in from a discipline perspective. It's extremely demanding physically and mentally," said Black. "It's a great, great sport."

The boxing programs will target young people aged 10 to 17. Trainers will provide youth with information about healthy living, teamwork and of course, how to deliver a powerful punch in the ring.

"We think there's some really good work we can do in that community," Black said.

"Bringing that into the North End where things are a little rougher around the edge, would be well received."

Point Douglas Coun. Mike Pagtakhan first approached Black about opening a club in the neighbourhood. The boxing veteran said he was surprised that a city councillor—with no experience in the boxing world—would be interested in investing city dollars in the idea.

"I didn't expect him or any councillor to approach us about opening up a boxing gym because it comes with certain connotations all of which surround violence," said Black.

Pagtakhan brushed off those negative connotations. Pan Am Boxing's location in the Exchange is within his ward and the councillor said he's watched it have a "powerful" effect producing "well-rounded indiviuals."

"I wanted to see that happen up in the North End," said Pagtakhan.

"It's all about creating leadership opportunities, teaching youth about fitness choices, how to eat healthy...and working together with others," he said.

Pagtakhan plans to partner with the Winnipeg School Division to identify young people who would most benefit from a boxing program. He is already concerned interest will surpass the number of spaces available for students.

"This will be a great recreational after-school program for youth," he said.

Pagtakhan said the goal is to provide programming for at least some young people starting in either September or October.
Pan Am Boxing will provide training staff to work at the new boxing gym. (Jillian Taylor/CBC)