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The Women Of NYC's Boxing Clubs
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The Women Of NYC's Boxing Clubs

Picture of Ismael Rodriguez
Updated: 2 December 2016
While there are fewer and fewer professional boxers these days, boxing has gained popularity in boxing clubs in New York as a form of exercise. Here is a look at some of the places in NYC that women can go to throw some punches.

Some box because it is an opportunity to work towards achieving a goal. And yet others do it to lose weight, or to get in shape, which is how the great and legendary fighter, Miguel Cotto, found his way into boxing. Consequently, some gyms are tailored for those that want to make boxing a career and other gyms are for those that want to mostly work out. With that being said, some thrive off the adrenaline boxing can induce, while enjoying what they’re good at, a sometimes painful career as a boxer.

One out of many New York female boxers mentioned that boxing was more than just a brutal sport, and required chess-like thinking, vigorous training, and constant applying. Melissa Hernandez, originally from Puerto Rico, and now residing in New York City, has been in the game for 13 years. As she was interested in getting into an activity that would help her lose weight, a friend of hers invited her to a boxing gym. She eventually became proud of her own ability to box, making a career out of it ever since. Her hope is a payday but her attitude suggests that a demand for female boxing is low in an already declining sport.

Punching bag with TWINS BGVL3 | © Mantas Langaitis/Flickr
Punching bag with TWINS BGVL3 | © Mantas Langaitis/Flickr

Boxing is, without a doubt, a masculine sport in New York City as well as around the world. However, Gleason’s Gym, one of the oldest boxing gyms in the United States, has more female champions training there than male champions for the first time since their inception. With this being said, most of the gym’s members are non-fighters, which suggests a workout or hobby, and most importantly, a fee paid. The majority of gyms in New York City are not fight gyms but more of a place that imitates that type of environment for a workout. It may be that fighters tend to come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and that’s why fighter gyms are located in those poverty stricken areas.

Places such as Jerome’s Boxing Gym, in the Bronx, which has unfortunately closed down, are considered gyms for people whose religion is boxing. These types of gyms are where boxing is the only thing people do; it is their full time job and offers them the chance to become what they aspire to be, a professional and successful boxer. These gyms are gritty in terms of the people and the appearance of the place and equipment itself. There is usually no indication of anything fancy going on, less kicking or acrobatic stuff, not to mention UFC, but just the desire to learn and perfect the sweet science of boxing, and a place that is tailor-made for that. Some of the things you may see and experience at a fighter’s gym are a ring, punching bag, hand and eye coordination apparatus, mirrors, an extended rope for bobbing and weaving, and always, loud and good music, which can be motivating. Nowadays, upscale gyms are mimicking this type of environment to attract non-fighters and to pay the bills.

In order to do so, the gym is commercialized with a tad of glamour and hip factor. Despite Church Street Boxing Gym and its old school location in a basement, as well as their strict training program, it attracts businessmen and other non-fighters, providing classes, which may or may not give it a something-to-do vibe as in a salsa or Zumba class. For some, boxing is an opportunity to make it out of poverty and for others it is a good workout, a hobby, a confidence booster, or just something new to learn. The one thing that’s for sure is that when you get to know boxing, it can become a hobby or even your livelihood.