WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - On Friday night, members of the Watertown Boxing Club gathered to share stories about their experiences both in and out of the ring. Stories they hope will continue in the near future.
Right now, the club has ceased operations, moving out of its Starbuck Avenue location after learning its home for the past 7 years didn’t meet COVID-19 guidelines. For head coach John Pepe, it’s been a roller coaster week.
”We actually just left the gym, we just took down the frame for the ring so basically there’s nothing on the floor now and that was kind of, that was kind of hard, that was a little emotional for me,” Pepe said.
The Watertown Boxing Club is more than just a gym- it’s a way of life for for the boxers that train and compete there. Lacy Mullis calls it a family.
“Yeah, these guys have been my family for, well, 13 years I guess,” Mullis said. “When I’d have a rough day at school, I could walk into the gym and just to have one of the guys say ’hey, how’s it going, you ready to spar,’ or ’let’s hit the bags,’ it brightened my mood.”
And with any family there’s a father figure. Pepe has not only been a coach but acted as that father figure, helping turn some of these boxers lives around and teaching them not only boxing lessons, but life lessons as well.
“Discipline for sure,” said boxing club member Jon Jones. “Discipline, like walked away from so many altercations because of this boxing club and just, I don’t know, just walked away the same person, not angry.”
While this has put the boxing club on the mat, Pepe says they’re not down for the count just yet and is hopeful this is a fight that will go the distance and end in a victory and a new home not only for him, but his boxers as well.
“I miss it very much, you know there’s just, there’s still a fire in my belly to train and to be in there with them,” Pepe said. “Sometimes, I spar with them but it’s very hard you know, something you love and have passion for and not be able to do it is very tough.”