SCBC gives back with free kids boxing program
Every Saturday from noon until 2 p.m., kids gather at the St. Catharines Boxing Club to take part in free boxing lessons.
Bella Bailey, a 10-year-old from Niagara Falls, has been coming for the past few months and is a big fan of the McGibbon’s Youth Program.
“I used to do karate and my dad said maybe I could do kick boxing. I said, ‘OK’ and he found this place and we started coming here,” the Kate S. Durdan Public School student said. “I like how it teaches me how to box, it makes me a better skipper and it gives me exercise.”
Her father, Brian Bailey, has seen his daughter progress in the program.
“She enjoys it and she is starting to get better. I see the smile come out when she starts to skip a little bit better.”
He highly recommends the program to other parents.
“It is a great environment with awesome people who are just here for the kids. It is a giving and a very welcoming environment.”
The SCBC ran the program for kids 8-18 for about five years before COVID hit before the program restarted about five months ago.
“The most important thing about McGibbon Gloves is it’s to honour Ray McGibbon who always loved helping out the kids,” coach Joe Corrigan said. “We are trying to give back to the community and what better way to do that than letting the kids come in and train for free. If they have any frustration, they can punch the bag and get a free workout in. It is good for self confidence.”
Funds raised from the Ray McGibbon Gloves boxing card are used to fund the program, help cover the costs of the club’s youth boxers going to tournaments and buy equipment.
Helping to coach the program is Bruce Greenlaw.
“It has been great. We have kids who started years ago and are still with the program now. I haven’t seen too many kids stick with it long enough to compete but it is nice to see them progress from Week 1 when they are struggling with a skipping rope to Week 3 when they are skipping well and picking up the shadow boxing,” he said. “That is what the program is about. It’s about happy kids. A lot of them and the parents walk by the desk and thank Joe for what we are doing.”
The parents are instant converts to the program.
“We see that the parents are a little bit anxious when they bring their kids in. It’s boxing and the joke is you don’t play boxing. It’s boxing,” Greenlaw said. “But they watch their kids a little bit and we are all friendly here. All the coaches here are easygoing and we like to make light of it and let the kids have some fun. We always emphasize exercise and fun and I think it is important for parents to see that. We don’t throw kids into the ring on the first day and there is no contact. They are going to skip, get a good workout and hopefully they will come back the next week.”
Attendance varies week to week.
“We have a walkup crowd and there’s not a set amount of people that come so sometimes you get five and sometimes you get 12 or 20. But we always go through the same workout,” he said. “We do rounds of skipping, we are going to teach them how to shadow box and they are going to go on the (heavy) bag for six or seven rounds and do a thing called circle where someone leads a group in a bit of cardio, such as squats and setups or stuff like that. Then we do a cool down and maybe some abs work as well.”
Kids of all abilities are welcome at the club.
“Some kids obviously dive into it a little harder than others but that is to be expected. Today, looking around we have a lot of returning customers and we have a lot of new people to which is awesome for us,” he said.
The number of boys and girls attending is often equal in number.
“That is very nice because we have really good, younger female boxers here and it’s nice for the new kids to see the girls that are here and have competed a couple of times,” Greenlaw said. “It’s someone they can look up to and it’s less intimidating when you have someone there that you can relate to. It is easier for them to pick up the sport.”
No special equipment is required to participate.
“We supply the gloves and a skipping rope so they should show up in athletic clothing with a water bottle and running shoes.”