Boxing club could be homeless

Don Brennan, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

The 10-count has begun on the Beaver Boxing Club.

Unless a new location can soon be found for the venerable institution, its existence will cease and desist when a wrecking ball demolishes its Carling Ave. walls later this year.

"I certainly hope that's not the case," club president and head coach Joey Sandulo said yesterday. "We've been going steady for 36 years, non-stop. It would be pretty darn hard to see it end now."

Relocating would be nothing new for the Beaver Boxing Club, which has had numerous addresses since it first opened 70-some years ago. But to its current home of 16 years Ñ a building which includes vacant offices Ñ was sent a 30-day notice by the City of Ottawa a couple of weeks ago.

While the club might receive a stay of execution, it won't be extended past the November deadline.

Prospects of finding a new place to set up shop aren't looking good.

"Real estate people have called, but what they're asking is way out of the question," said Sandulo, whose gym requires at least 4,000 square feet. "Right now, I don't know what we're going to do."

Sandulo says the city has been "very, very helpful" in searching out a new spot for the club to set up shop.

"They know what we do at the club," he said. "We take them in from all over the place.

"We've helped a lot of people out over the years."

And nobody's devoted more of himself than Sandulo, a now 78-year old former boxer who first sparred with the club in 1944.

Many a youth have trained there since. So have many a Canadian title-holder and world-class fighter.

The underprivileged work out for free. Those who can afford to pay, don't pay much.

While other clubs are known to charge $50 a month, the Beaver Boxing Club recently considered raising its annual dues to $200.

"When we go out of town (for competitions) we look after everything," said Sandulo. "The transportation, accommodation, meals ... and we do a lot of travelling."

Sandulo says that "on any given night we might have 60-70 people in the gym working out." Only 15 or so are currently fighting competitively.

Some of his talent was on display at the annual Ringside For Youth fundraiser Thursday at Aberdeen Pavilion, and Sandulo's boys showed themselves well by winning all four of their fights.

The victors included 18-year-old Henry Lopez, who Sandulo has great hopes will win at the nationals.

Jeremy Plunkett, Ryan O'Connor and Phillip Ha were the other Beaver boxers to have their arm raised in front of James "Buster" Douglas, who stripped Mike Tyson of the world heavyweight belt in 1990.

"We did all right," Sandulo said. "The crowd showed their appreciation."

Now, the Beaver Boxing Club just needs somebody to show their appreciation by showing it the door. The door behind which it can continue to operate.


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