A boxing club set to open next month will allow Yellowknifers to step into the ring.
The city gym formerly known as Just Fitness has become Stanley Boxing and Just Fitness & Wellness, and will now offer a boxing club for children and adults.
The gym formerly focused on high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) classes, while its partner gym in Grande Prairie specialized in boxing.
Co-owners John Stanley and Scott Thomson say they saw the need for a boxing club in the Northwest Territories after numerous requests from residents.
“Boxing kind-of fell into the shadows when MMA and the UFC became a thing. Everyone wanted to be an MMA fighter,” said Thomson.
Thomson and Stanley believe this is the first boxing club in Yellowknife for 15 years.
"We thought it was time to bring boxing up to the Northwest Territories again,” said Stanley, who will be the club's trainer. He has been boxing since he was 15, he said, and has coached for 25 years.
“I want to be able to teach them the discipline of the sport, the respect that comes with it," he said. "The respect for your opponents, the respect for the sport itself, the respect for the coaches and people in general, and give them the ideas of what kind of competition is available out there.”
Stanley believes the sport can open horizons for people to travel all over the world.
“I’ve had people that had never been off Newfoundland and ended up in Mexico and places like that, competing in world championships,” he said.
Currently the NWT has no territorial sport organization for boxing, which means athletes from the territory will have to compete against rivals from Alberta if they want to earn places at regional or national competitions.
Thomson said he has been talking with Boxing Canada, Sport Canada, and Sport North to create a territorial sport organization to change that.
“We really want to grow the sport of boxing in the territory and I think with John’s boxing knowledge, coaching experience and capabilities, we can really develop some amazing athletes that can actually win at the national level,” said Thomson – though he emphasized both recreational and competitive options will be available at the club.
“The end goal is to start a competitive boxing club, start competing nationally, and travel the same way our gym in Grande Prairie does.”
The Yellowknife gym is currently under renovation to prepare for the boxing club and fix other aspects of the space. The finished club will include a boxing ring and 10 heavyweight bags.
Instructed classes are to start September 4 and be held four times a week. There are classes for youth aged 10-16 or adults aged 17 and up.