(Update: Adding video and comments from founder and coach)
Owner seeking help to stay at American Loop location
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) --The Bend Boxing Club is looking to stay at their current location, something its founder says is critical for the future of the community and Central Oregon's only public boxing gym.
The boxing club says it needs to raise $8,000 to cover the cost of a rezoning permit from the city, as well as gym expenses and the annual registration with USA Boxing.
The GoFundMe page created to "Save the Bend Boxing Club" has raised $3,040, with 33 donors so far.
The boxing club opened its gym on American Loop in southeast Bend last year. The club started in the 90's and has had other locations in Bend and Redmond, for a total of five locations over the years.
The new space was originally rented as a welding shop, then turned into a gym.
It's not supposed to be a commercial business, because founder Rod Smith originally rented the space for industrial use. He has been talking to the city for two months and is now in the process of applying for a conditional use permit, but needs to raise that $8,000.
"I've had kids that are 50 now that come up to me and tell me how great the gym was for them," Smith said Thursday.
It's a nonprofit organization where people of all ages and all skill levels can "improve their health, discipline, and confidence through the sport," the fundraising page states.
When Smith was 18, he joined the Navy, where he picked up his love for the sport of boxing. He went up against big names like James Tillis and Tyrel Briggs in his professional boxing career. Afterward, he went on to discover coaching and teaching others his love for the sport.
"I started boxing in the Navy. I was a wrestling coach at Mare Island, down in Naval Station in Vallejo," Smith said. "The boxing guy got sick, and I took his place at 12th Naval District at Treasure Island. Fell in love with the sport. I had a guy that took me to school -- beat me up, and showed me what boxing was all about."
"Boxing is -- I'm kind of prejudiced, but I think it's the best sport of them all," Smith said. "Being able to build that character and within your own self."
The gym offers people of all ages discipline and confidence, in and out of the ring.