As the downtown reinvents itself with a mix of restaurants, lounges and shops, a unique addition is gaining momentum on the edge of the inner city.
There, people are working to re-establish Haverhill as a power in the sport of boxing.
The Haverhill Downtown Boxing Club on Locust Street is gaining members and entering them into regional tournaments.
Trainers and organizers at the relatively new club said they have some of the best boxing talent in the region. They believe that with hard work and commitment, the club’s fighters and staff can help Haverhill build a reputation as a boxing incubator.
“We have the talent in experienced winning boxers and trainers and kids who want to do this,” said trainer Ray Hebert.
The club’s young boxers have to figure out how to mix school, work and boxing into a schedule that allows them to grow as fighters and well-rounded people.
Isaiah Colon, 16, of Haverhill is typical of the promising members the club has drawn.
Several weeks ago, the club entered Colon in a fight in Billerica. He lost all three rounds, but does have much promise, said Hebert, who is also a partner at the club.
Colon and other boxers at the club follow a strict and physically demanding routine. With each training session, a boxer loosens up, then does three rounds of shadow boxing — throwing combinations of punches into the air instead of hitting a bag or sparring with another boxer.
Everything is done in three-round cycles. After they shadow box, boxers go three rounds on the heavy punching bag. This exercise helps the boxer work on his punching power as he hits a solid surface.
The trainers work with the boxers to show them how to stand and position themselves. They learn to work on technique, a way they feel comfortable.