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Every day, Monday through Friday, for the past fourteen plus years, I have been fortunate to have been able to travel in a time machine to a much happier, more comfortable place. I would drive the mile and a half from home, unlock the door, and walk into the past, leaving the present behind.
As I would enter the SJC Boxing gym, located on a rundown street in a not so nice part of town, memories would come flooding back. It was the 1950’s all over again. The old three roped 16 ft boxing ring, with its red, white and blue ropes, tattered, torn and patched up ring canvas, with the large Everlast banner hanging behind it, was the centerpiece of the gym.
The duct taped heavy bags, rat-a-tat-tat sound of the speed bags echoing in the background, the posters and pictures of the many shows that I have been involved with throughout the world hanging on the walls, and the fighters skipping rope and shadow boxing in front of the sweat stained mirrors, was a constant reminder of boxing the way it used to be.
The gym has produced ten world champions (mostly minor titles), and has hosted fighters from fifty eight different countries (many of them world champions or top contenders) throughout the years. Flags are proudly displayed on the walls, left behind by fighters from those countries.
Hall of fame trainers and fighters have visited and trained here. Some of the sparring sessions were much better than what you see on television. Press conferences have been televised and watched around the world from our gym. Old fighters often stopped by just to reminisce and watch and talk.
The gym will close for the final time on Friday, September 24, 2010. Many of the “regulars” will return on Saturday morning and take things apart. They will load up a moving truck and take it to a new building a mile away. Sunday will be spent setting up a new gym, Monday the new gym will open for the first time. It is a nicer building in a better part of town. However, we are all hoping that that the new gym will be just like the old gym and that the character, atmosphere and tradition, along with the ghosts of the old gym, will also make the move.
Farewell to a part of boxing heaven.