hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

September 26, 2013

Boxers in financial struggle

Seek money for gym of their own

By Bruce Amaro
Correspondent

---- — Like so many things, it comes down to money.

Nearly a year after losing their home at the old St. Michael’s Church on High Street, a group of young boxers and their leaders are making progress, but still have not found a new home.

They are having events to raise money and have new members on a board of directors, which is working to get community support.

The Haverhill Inner City Boxing organization had a successful money-raising event last weekend at Archie’s Little River Ale House in Lafayette Square. Proceeds will go toward renting a space to provide the young boxers a new gym.

“Rents are expensive, but times are tough,’’ said Joe Ferguson, leader of the organization. “The landlords have bills have to pay, too. They have to pay their costs. Everybody’s struggling these days.

“The codes that we have to meet don’t make it easy to find a place,” Ferguson said. “The places we need have to met codes and regulations. They need a places with shower facilities, that meets ADA compliance, has the correct sprinkler system and exits that are lit correctly.’’

For now, the group rents a space for a few hours a day at the Lawrence Boxing Club.

An organization created from the remnants of the old Haverhill Boxing Club, the group will mark its first anniversary this November as Haverhill’s first non-profit athletic organization built around boxing.

“We want to get the kids off the street and let them learn that attitudes have consequences,” Ferguson said.

The group’s board of directors has designed the organization as an alternative place for boxers who want to enter matches in the ring and also for people interested in boxing just for the workout.

The group also plans after-school tutoring, community service programs, adult programs and affordable memberships.

Already licensed to solicit donations, the club has raised money with events such as tag days. On Oct. 8, the 99 Restaurant at 786 River St. will run a dine-for-a-cause from 5 p.m. to closing. The event will donate 15 percent of every diner’s bill to the boxing group.

“The customers need to bring a flyer from the club with them and we attach that flyer to their bill,’’ said 99 manager, Michael Crowell. “When we total up the receipts for the night, we send the boxing club a check for 15 percent of that total.’’

The club wants to make itself a community organization that will attract members from all parts of Haverhill, “but we want to house ourselves downtown. We want to be in the city center where the local kids have easy access to the place,” Ferguson said.

The boxers continue to train five days a week in Lawrence and Haverhill.

“On some nights, we have them run track and work out outside.” Ferguson said. “We see that things will change. Some companies have already said they’d like to talk with us when we get the 501-C3 status.’’