Zach Walters, who runs the Jungle Boy Boxing Gym next to Observation Park, is disappointed with the decision. He says that the members of the boxing gym use the field for workouts during the summer. The gym is looking to possibly expand and offer more workout classes for conditioning and lifting with different groups of people.
The gym is a positive force in the community. Walters stands strongly for being not only a boxing coach, but a role model for the kids that come through.
“Yes, I’ll teach my boxers the fundamentals and strategies of boxing,” said Zach Walters, as quoted from the gyms mission statement. “But more importantly, it’s my goal to be a role model for what it takes to be successful in life. This means teaching how to deal with setbacks in a positive way and setting goals to aspire to. Life can be tough on kids, but with focus and drive they can see through the hard times to a better future.”
Walters explains that each person who wants to be apart of his gym must sign a pledge he has written, for a drug free life. This pledge is a promise to stay away from drugs and parties as well as a promise to hold other boxing friends accountable to their promise.
“The pledge is about holding each other to a higher standard than the average citizen,” said Walters. “Smart kids box, not just a bunch of knuckle-heads.”
In 2010 Walters inherited this gym from his coach. It used to be called Horton’s gym but when Walters took over, it had to be renamed. The name for the gym came from his boxing nickname, Jungle Boy.
“I started a charity non-profit and before I knew, Mayor Don Ness had contacted me and wanted to get involved,” said Walters. “I told him we needed a gym and he found this building available for me. I have been dedicated to keep giving back to the community ever since.”
There are boxers and trainers of all ages that come together each week to train and learn from one another. Bing Bang has been in the boxing industry for over 50 years. In his retirement he has become a trainer and a coach, heavily involved in the Jungle Boy Boxing gym.
“What I like about boxing is that it keeps the kids off the streets,” said Bing Bang. “There are kids that I’ve trained that were in trouble, I got them away from that trouble. They thank me for that, it’s a good feeling and that’s what its all about.”
Some other members express what a waste it would be to give a park to the dogs. Al Sands, newly professional boxer, number six in the nation, Golden Gloves champion and member of the Jungle Boy Boxing Gym, says that it is the people in the community that need help. He says that at the gym, they concentrate on bettering the people, who will in effect, better the community as a whole.
“It’s the people who train the dogs, who raise the dogs, that will be better owners of these animals, if they become better people,” said Sands. “There are a lot of things you can learn through athletics that is very difficult to learn in other places. Dedication, focus, attention to detail, can all be qualities that can feed into other aspects of life.”
Bettering the community is something that Sands has grown passionate about and he is proud to be a part of something that is doing just that.
“Speaking with the neighbors they would rather see us continue doing what we’re doing to benefit the community,” said Sands. “All we can do is speak our peace and hope it makes an impact.”
All photos by Brittney Bloch