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Beaver Boxing in Ottawa Ontario

News: Beaver Boxing settles into new digs on Spruce Street

It wasn’t long ago that a renowned local gym was stuck without a home. But Beaver Boxing’s year-long search for a new facility paid off in the end, says its president.

The non-profit amateur gym found itself on the ropes after its Carling Avenue location was demolished in December 2009 to make way for an expansion of the Queensway. But the club has since found new space that club president Joe Sandulo is proud to call home.

“We’ve been here, there, and everywhere in Ottawa,” says Sandulo. “Now, I think we have one of the nicest facilities in Ontario.”

The new gym at 145 Spruce Street is just the latest home for the club, which has been an Ottawa institution for over 60 years. Beaver Boxing provides fitness classes for the general public, as well as specialized training under Sandulo and a group of experienced coaches. None, however, has more experience than Sandulo—he fought for Canada at the 1948 Olympics and has coached and mentored boxers since 1950.

The last year has been tumultuous for Beaver Boxing, ever since they were forced to vacate their previous location on Carling Avenue in January 2010. After a space-sharing deal with the Boys & Girls Club fell through at the last second, the club moved most of its equipment into storage and begin renting space from the N-1 Thai Boxing Academy on Preston Street three nights a week. The original plan was for Beaver Boxing to share space for three months while searching for a new home, but the club ended up extending their stay by almost six months.

“It’s hard finding the space you need,” says Jill Perry, the assistant coach of Beaver Boxing Club and a member of the board of directors. “A boxing club doesn’t have to be fancy, but it takes a bit of room, and it’s kind of noisy. A lot of our members are young people, so we wanted [the new space] to be close to public transit. It has to be in a safe environment.”

After examining several locations that didn’t fit the criteria, the members of the Beaver Boxing board of directors found their new location almost entirely by accident. While looking at space in the City Centre complex, one member of the board noticed a nearby rental at 145 Spruce Street.

“I knew right away, the first time I saw it,” says Perry. “I knew for absolute certain that it was the place. If we could get it, this was going to be an awesome gym.”

Beaver Boxing Club took over the space in December 2010, and Perry credits the club’s extensive network of alumni and volunteers with helping to convert the space into a proper gym.

“We just got our team of volunteers working,” says Perry. “Putting the flooring down, hanging up the old posters, painting, setting up the ring—it was a lot of work. You don’t realize how much everything in a gym weighs until you have to move it.”

Perry and Sandulo are volunteers as well, giving countless hours on evenings and weekends to train fighters and shuttle them to tournaments across Ontario. Perry says the Beaver Boxing community makes all the hard work worthwhile, and the new building is just the latest example of what a close-knit community can do.

“Beaver Boxing is an institution,” she says. “Once you’ve been here and done some time, it’s a part of you.”