Fighting Solves Everything: Tough Love at Church Street Boxing Gym
Church Street Boxing Gym, located in a basement on Park Place, is a quick two stops from The King’s College on the 2/3 line. The gym was founded in 1997, and has since trained top boxers such as Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.
The people you see frequenting the gym however, are a mix of white collar and blue collar, men and women. They come for the workouts and stay for the community.
The gym does not look impressive from the outside. The sparse advertising makes it easy to miss as you walk down the street. Once inside, the space embodies the concept of a “no frills” gym. Heavy bags hang from the tall ceilings, and a large boxing ring dominates the center of the space. You won’t find towel service or fancy exercise equipment here. What you will find are trainers, all of whom are former or current professional and amateur fighters, who will push you to your limit.
A boxing class at Church Street lasts an hour. They offer classes seven days per week, starting at seven in the morning and going until eight at night, allowing even the busiest person to fit it into their schedule. In addition, they truly seek to make it affordable. They offer a first month price of $79 for unlimited classes, a free private session, free hand wraps and boxing gloves. In addition they offer a 10% discount for students.
By the end of a class, you will have done more burpees than you imagined possible, and punched a bag until you can barely raise your arms. Lee McConnell, one of the coaches, often warns his early morning class that someone will vomit by the end of class, and he isn’t always wrong. To a first timer, the gym may seem harsh. This tough mentality is underscored by the gym’s motto: “fighting solves everything”.
The coaches at Church Street recognize that not everyone is trying to become a professional or amateur boxer. A lot of people are simply trying to get in shape. During every workout, everyone can go at their own pace, and the trainers typically don’t try to push you too much until they better understand you and your goals.
The trainers put you through the grueling workouts because they believe they are training the mind and the body. A trainer and amateur fighter, who goes by the name of Scrap, explained “one of the mistakes people make is they think boxing is all about the body, but it’s really all about the mind.”
The goal of the repetitions is to strengthen your mind and develop your muscle memory.
He continued, “That’s why you don’t need all this fancy equipment. The best boxers are coming out of places like Cuba and Mexico where all they have is a bag of sand for a punching bag, but they come and f*** people up because they’ve been putting in that work to train their mind.”
The gym is uniquely egalitarian in that it creates a space where a Wall Street investment banker and a construction worker can train together and fight each other. Through these shared experiences, people from all walks of life can form acquaintances and friendships. They also seek to create a welcoming environment for women, and offer “ladies only” classes in order to teach women self defense.
The Church Street owners grew up fighting, and know the power that boxing can have in someone’s life. In keeping with their motto, “fighting solves everything”, they operate a boxing mentorship program. This program gives lower income kids free boxing lessons in exchange for doing chores around the gym, staying in school and staying out of drugs. The owners, Jenaro Diaz and Jason Strout, personally coach this program twice a week.
The community at Church Street Boxing Gym is a far cry from the community you’ll find at The King’s College. At the same time, they share striking similarities. Both are seeking excellence and virtue in their own unique ways. Both value discipline, hard work, and integrity. For those willing and able to spend the money, Church Street Boxing Gym is a worthwhile investment. If you are on the fence, they do offer free trial classes, so sign up, and give it a try.