WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita’s longest running boxing gym reopened to the public on Tuesday after closing its doors in 2016.
The gym started renting out an industrial building in the Planeview neighborhood in March after a Wichita police officer noticed a need for kid like activities in the area.
“It’s a place for kids to come to, just be able to box,” said Villa Boxing Coach Jacob Villa. “It’s a safe place especially for kids in this particular neighborhood, but you know for kids throughout the city.”
On Tuesday, dozens of children and their parents showed up to the gym. Many of them were new to the sport, but wanted to give it a try.
“I saw it, and I was like yeah I have to do this,” said Shannon Lee.
Shannon Lee is a single mom of two young boys.
“We were picking flowers in front of the gym about a week or so ago and noticed the doors were open, and I had my son come inside and asked when they opened and they said now,” Lee said.
This is the first time Lee’s children have been involved in a sport. She said she doesn’t have the finances to support them in other competitive activities.
“It’s an opportunity to get them involved in sports of sorts, and it was affordable,” Lee said.
Villa Boxing is free for kids as long as they do well in school, according to Villa.
“Their part of the deal to uphold is at least passing grades. You know, we understand that every kid learns in a different way, so with that being said, we are going to try to have some tutors to try and help them out,” Villa said.
Villa added the kids will learn more than how to box at the gym. He said his goal is to teach his athletes about life.
“Their own self-respect and the discipline that comes along with boxing, I’m sure it is going to translate into a bunch of other things in their lives,” Villa said.
Bella Sandoval, 8, has been boxing for more than a year. She said the sport has taught her how to be happy with herself.
“I’m confident and I can keep myself in charge and I don’t let anybody get me down and I can protect myself as a girl,” Bella said.
Villa Boxing is competition based, but the coaches said they do plan on offering movie nights and other activities for the kids in the area.