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Archive for Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A puncher’s paradise

Walt’s Boxing a Lawrence gem

Justin Montgomery, far left, discusses technique Friday at Walt's Boxing in North Lawrence. Walt's Boxing is open from 5 to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday and welcomes people of any skill level as well as those who just want to use the facility.

Justin Montgomery, far left, discusses technique Friday at Walt's Boxing in North Lawrence. Walt's Boxing is open from 5 to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday and welcomes people of any skill level as well as those who just want to use the facility.

July 25, 2007

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Joining the gym

Walt's Boxing offers a variety of membership options and training services:

  • Single Day Visit - $5
  • 10-visit punch card - $5 per day, expires two months after purchase
  • 3-month membership - $141
  • 6-month membership - $132
  • Military veteran rate - $111

It's just past 9 on a Thursday night. The last of the members left the gym more than an hour ago. Walt Ewert, 26, and Justin Montgomery, 25, stand alone in the middle of a regulation-sized boxing ring in North Lawrence, slugging it out.

As the two former Army buddies duck and dodge their way through a few rounds of sparring, they hardly seem to notice the stifling heat that radiates off of the yellow walls in the newly opened Walt's Boxing gym.

For now, they are two fighters sharpening their skills in a beat-up, old warehouse. They look into the future and see more.

"A lot of people are in our target market, but don't really know it," Montgomery said. "Our short-term goal was to create a place where we could work out and hang out in a boxing environment. But we want to grow. We want to generate community interest. We want to host events."

So far, they're batting .667. All that's left is putting on a show with a main event and undercard bouts. They aren't there yet.

Stuffed into nearly 2,000 square feet of the former Lawrence Hydraulic and Hose building, one mile north of I-70 on Highway 59, the gym is rough on the outside and lined with top-notch equipment inside. Since opening on June 12, more than 60 people have passed through the door at Walt's Boxing. Several have returned for weekly sessions. The gym has six full-time members and offers everything from a place to blow off steam or get into shape to full-fledged training and sparring opportunities.

The owners say their clients seek a change of pace from the more popular fitness centers in town. They covet the average Joe, the die-hard boxing fanatics, and everyone in between.

"That's one of the main reasons we didn't call ourselves House of Pain or Concrete Fists or We're Gonna Kill You Boxing," Ewert said. "With boxing, a lot of the draw is the learning curve. As you learn it, you have some real 'Aha!' moments and most people who try it find out they really like it."

That was exactly the way it went down for Gary Patterson, one of Walt's Boxing's first clients who committed to a six-month membership right away.

"I had done some martial arts before but never boxing," Patterson said. "This is just so much more practical. You learn things so quickly. In the first week, even though you're just getting into it, you learn so much. Plus you get a great cardio workout. I love it."

As for the story behind the name, that tale harkens back to the sport's glory days.

"We were thinking Old School, 1940s, when the national icon was the heavyweight champion of the world," Ewert said.

With his gift of gab as quick as his jab, Montgomery added: "Walt's seems to take you back to that era and you just feel it when you hear the name."

A handyman by day and boxing devotee by night, Ewert believes that treating people the way they want to be treated and offering them a chance to get in shape through boxing is the best way to make the new business a success.

"Skipping rope for 15 minutes is like running for 45 minutes," he said. "And hitting the heavy bag for two minutes can make you vomit. I get real excited about this opportunity but I also try to curb that, just to be real with it. For it to work, we can't make many mistakes."

That's where Montgomery and his Kansas University business degree enter the picutre. He made sure Walt's Boxing became an incorporated business and filled out the necessary forms to join the USA Boxing Commission. The gym's marketing campaign was low-budget but effective. They handed out 100 flyers and 200 business cards and posted a smattering of messages on internet sites such as craigslist.com and facebook.com.

"Those guys aren't out to become millionaires," Patterson said. "You can tell they're very passionate about what they do and they're just great guys."

The new business venture meshes nicely with Montgomery's training for the Ringside World Championships (July 31-Aug. 4 in Kansas City, Mo.). It features more than 1,000 fighters and bills itself as the world's largest amateur boxing event. Ewert will serve as Montgomery's corner man.

Walt's Boxing is open from 5-to-9 p.m., Monday through Friday and offers a variety of membership packages from a $5 daily pass to signing up for six months of uppercuts and jumping rope.

"We think that's the most flexible you can get," Ewert said. "I'll give anyone a free workout just so they'll try it. We just want to get people interested in boxing and have some fun at the same time."

Comments

ramsrevenge 7 years, 4 months ago

Boxing's great.

blueharley, you ever ride a motorcycle without a helmet? Have you seen an x-ray of a motorcycle drivers head after an accident. If there's even anything left upstairs, it's not much.

homemom 7 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like a couple of enterprising young men to me. Good luck!!

acg 7 years, 4 months ago

That Justin guy is hot. I'm just sayin'.......

subgenius37 7 years, 4 months ago

There is a real difference from recreational boxing and Leon Spinks! Boxing is a great way to get in shape, learn a skill, meet people, and have fun. Similar to other contact sports like football, people who do it for a living wear their bodies down and can get hurt. This is a gym where they wear pads and helmets. It is very unlikely that you would end up like Spinks who made his career as a punching bag in the professional heavy weight circuit. Perhaps blue73harley should stick with Wii Boxing hopefully he can lose some weight and use it to defend himself ;)

lildos 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree with subgenius. A boxing workout is one of the best ways I have ever seen to get in shape. I played basketball for 14 years, 4 in college here and the rest overseas playing semipro and pro ball. I have my share of hard workouts in the offseason, but nothing compared to the boxing workout I had at Walt's Gym. It was a no contact workout where Eric (Golden Gloves Coach of the Year) just showed us basic boxing moves and basic workouts. I felt muscles that I did not even know I had in that workout! If you want a good sweat and a fun workout I strongly reccomend going to check out Walt's Boxing. Those guys are really passionate about what they do and they will make you feel right at home!

GenevaMarieva 7 years, 4 months ago

Have you been to this gym? It's AWESOME, and the owners are very careful about training and safety. No need to start a flamewar. If you don't want to box, don't go! If you want a great workout from two very cool, fun (veterans, no less) guys who will be quite concerned with your well being, go give Walt's Boxing a try. Incidentally, I happen to know that Walt, himself rides a Harley ;)

Dan Alexander 7 years, 4 months ago

Sounds great, but also pretty far outa town. I'd love to give it a shot though.

Nothing like a biker telling someone else to get a different hobby.

Confrontation 7 years, 4 months ago

Isn't it odd that the 6-month membership is cheaper than a 3-month membership (according to this article)? Also, buying a punchcard will get you the same daily price as a single-day pass. Just seems strange to me. Good luck to the business.

WaltsBoxing 7 years, 4 months ago

Clarification on rates: 1 Day- $9 10 Day Punchcard - $5/day 3 Month - $47/month 6 Month - $44/month Veteran - $37/month Family Plan - additional family members $28/month Buddy Plan - sign up with a non-family member and both get $10 off first month

JayhawkAlum03 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm actually surprised at how many people don't seem to realize that you don't have to actually fight to get a benefit out of boxing. I spent some time training at a gym in another city that catered to all boxers: pros, amateurs, and non-fighters. I never actually fought, but like the other guy mentioned above, did develop six-pack abs and some amazing muscle definition...and I was in good shape to start with!

blueharley- Haven't been to this place, so I can't say what crowd they are aiming at, but where I trained, the only risks for many of us were no different than the risks with any exercise program. We jumped rope, worked on the speed and heavy bags, worked in the ring, but never actually fought. It was amazing training alongside those who were preparing for major events, though, even if that wasn't ever my goal.

I hope that Walt's Boxing does well in Lawrence! People need to find a workout they like enough to stick with, and this just provides another option!

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