Pegasus Amateur Boxing club is on the ropes
Head coach tries to find a new practice space after rental agreement abruptly ends
The clock is running out for a boxing club in Middleton as they race to find a new practice space.
For 11 years, Bruce Harkness has coached Pegasus Amateur Boxing in a room at the Fitness Experience health centre. He says he can't recall them having written understanding of how long their lease would continue, but on Dec. 11, Harkness was told he and his boxers needed to be out by Jan. 31.
Harkness says he understands that it's a business decision and other groups are likely able to pay higher rents. "It's an affordability thing for me, if I have to pay too much rent, then I just can't do it. I'll have to close up the boxing club."
Harkness says raising the cost of club membership would be the only way to meet a higher rental cost — and that's something he's just not willing to consider.
"I do it so the kids have something to do," he says, "and most of them can't afford to play other organized sports ... so I don't charge them much and I don't want to."
Harkness says boxing kept him out of trouble before he joined the military in his 20s.
"It gave me something to do, to work some frustrations off."
Now semi-retired, he volunteers his time for about a dozen people in his club ages 11 and up. His hope is that he's made a difference in some of the kids's lives, keeping them out of trouble as he calls it. He guesses a couple of hundred have passed through his doors over the years.
Cyrus Taylor was one of those kids. He has worked with Harkness since he was ten years old. Now at 21, with a world championship gold medal under his belt as well a number of other accolades — he says it's hard to hear that the club is in trouble.
"This is not just hard on Bruce, it's hard on guys like me who Bruce has done so much for," Taylor says.
Taylor explains that Harkness is what makes the club so special, not the room they practice in, so he hopes they're able to find a new space. "For me he instilled great character traits as a person. He gave me will power and determination."
The owner of Fitness Experience did not answer a request for interview.