To follow up those last three posts about boxing, indulge me for a few minutes whilst I tell you about a project that I’m working on.
Seven years ago, I tried boxing on a dare. I walked into FightFit in St. Catharines and it wasn’t long before the sport that I’d previously considered barbaric and requiring little skill became the sport I loved precisely because of how much skill is required.
In 2014, I had my first fight, and I fought again in 2016. Proud of both efforts, I wanted to continue to participate in boxing and do something meaningful with what I’d learned.
When I was training in 2014, I got in touch with Cathy van Ingen to discuss strategy and how one prepares for fight night. Cathy is also one of the founders of a program called Shape Your Life, and I knew the moment she finished telling me about it that it was a program I had to bring to Niagara.
So, three years after meeting with Cathy and a few months after my second fight, I decided it was time to open a boxing club.
But Underdogs Boxing Club is a different sort of boxing club. It’s recreational and no-contact. We are not training fighters. We are training for fitness, confidence, strength, empowerment, and camaraderie.
At Underdogs – a non-profit association – we’re hoping to accomplish a few things:
- We want the membership fees to be as accessible as possible whilst still covering our costs (rent, insurance, equipment, etc.);
- We want to fill that very large gap between boxercise (which is a good cardio workout, but doesn’t typically teach proper boxing technique) and the traditional boxing club (which tends to be male-dominated and intimidating for most people) with classes that teach proper boxing technique, give you a great workout, and provide you with the skills to feel your strength and power as you give everything you’ve got to one of the heavy bags, and you will never, ever take a hit;
- We want everyone to feel welcome, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc.;
- We want to be a community hub of sorts and make it possible for others to use our space when we’re not using it;
- We want to assist people experiencing poverty in having access to physical fitness activities through recreational, no-contact boxing; and
- We hope to eventually help women-identified survivors of violence through the Shape Your Life program and then to adapt the program to assist other populations who have experienced trauma.
So far, the community response has been extremely positive. We’ve raised more than $7,500 through our GoFundMe campaign; we’ve found a location; we’ve had a successful Trivia Night Fundraiser; we were extremely well received at Niagara VegFest; and we’ve started receiving requests to give lessons and demonstrations to groups.
Underdogs Boxing Club is a project that marries my feminism, my love of boxing, and my desire to give back to the community.
To be clear, though, Underdogs is not just for women. It’s for everyone. I know there are men as well who want to learn how to box, but who neither want to get hit or walk into a traditional boxing club. Underdogs is the boxing club for those men as much as it’s the boxing club for everyone else.
If you’re willing and able to assist, you can make a donation to the GoFundMe campaign and have my eternal gratitude.
If you live in Niagara and want to be a member, the campaign allows you to save the HST on your membership until we open our doors on September 1. If you live inside or outside of Niagara and want to support Underdogs but don’t want a membership reward, you can choose a sponsorship reward or you can send along a note that lets us know we can put your donation toward eventually being able to run Shape Your Life or into a fund to assist people who are experiencing poverty.
Every little bit helps. Truly.