Boxing Will Begin Soon at the RGS YMCA

Wick City Boxing Club Trainer Chris Bowers watches over 13-year-old Riley Shankle and 11-year-old brother Kody “Peanut” Shankle from Cowansville during practice at the gym on Orr Avenue in 2012. (KP 2012 File Photo)

The sport of boxing is experiencing a come-back this Spring thanks to the Richard G. Snyder YMCA.

A boxing club had its roots in the 1970s and 80s in Kittanning with approximately 25 golden glove champions making their mark in the sport during that era. In 2012, local boxing enthusiasts attempted to reorganize a boxing club and used donated second floor space above the Wick City Saloon. However, circumstances made it impossible to continue the club at that location.

At that time, Chris Bowers was very involved in the program. He denied the perception that youth were being trained to be aggressive.

“This is a sport just like anything else. This is not to go out in the street and start fights. We are totally, totally against that! If I find out anything happens like that, they will be reprimanded. They have been good citizens. It’s a sport,” Bowers emphasized.

RGS YMCA Executive Director Jack Clevesy told Armstrong School District directors of the Y’s program expansion plans last Thursday night.

YMCA Executive Director Jack Clevesy heard about the demise of the club and wanted to see it make another come-back.

“We had a young man who worked for us and he had boxed there,” Clevesy said. “I was really interested in it because I had the opportunity when growing up to box at the YMCA as well.

Clevesy said that when it was previously discussed, the Y did not have space available where a boxing ring could be set up full time and the program properly structured. But during the past year, another opportunity presented itself when the YMCA entered a lease with the Armstrong School District to utilize the former athletic field of the Kittanning High School.

“When we got the opportunity to take over the (former Kittanning High School) fields, tennis courts, and field house, then we started to take a look at the possibilities.  We moved some weight-lifting equipment up there (to the field house) to see how many people would go up and utilize it. Quite a few people went up and utilized it. So now we are readdressing the area so we can get the (boxing) ring in there. That’s the next big step.”

In 2012, Jeff Holmes from Kittanning trained throwing punches with Coach Chris Bowers. (KP 2012 File Photo)

In addition to equipment, there are a number of requirements including certified coaches and other program stipulations.

“Over the last two or three weeks, we have become affiliated with USA Boxing. That was one of the hurdles we had to hop over. We have acquired that certificate that allows us to do (the program), so now we can start training, get coaches up to that level so they can coach. Currently we are looking at the team structure and what it will look like. In order to have a team at the YMCA, you have to be a member of the Y.”

Clevesy told school board members last Thursday night that boxing in addition to many other new programs that will soon be launched are a result of the local community giving above and beyond during their annual contribution campaign. The Y is now embarking on a capital campaign that will enlarge the pool area as well as create space of additional programs.

“This has moved much slower than I would have wanted to see it move, but it has been a joy to watch it come together,” Clevesy said.

“I don’t have a date when the (boxing) ring is going to be (in place). I have heard through my team (it should be) around March. So this is going to happen.”

For more information on this program or any program offered at the Y, call their office at 724-545-YMCA (9622).