Alexandria gym fights to stay alive

City leaders want to turn an Alexandria boxing club into a facility that hosts fitness classes, open only to city residents.

ALEXANDRIA, VA(WUSA9) - Friday night, the Alexandria Boxing Club celebrated 3 boxers who won national championships last week. The mayor of the city even came through.

It’s a small gym that’s produced amazing talent since 1979.

Jeffrey Johnson, who goes by Steady, was there from the beginning. 

"A lot of kids have been saved by this program coming in here," he said.  "You have a silver medalist referring to another boxer. You have 3 national champions in Amelia Moore, Keyshawn Davis, and Troy Isley. Three!! That’s unheard of." 

"People that come here for the first time, they don’t want to leave," Troy Isley's father said.  It’s that family atmosphere which makes it so special. 

It’s like we keep using that word over and over again," Amelia Moore said to a crowd of about 30-40 people.  Like home is what this is.  Boxing is a family. Boxing is a lifestyle its not a sport.

But this community gym could be pushed out.

The Old Town neighborhood’s demographics are changing.

What once was a predominantly black area, has quickly become a predominantly white area.. 

Not to mention, the city owns the space and wants to phase out the competitive fighting scene.

They've  cut down the hours for the gym and forced them to focus more on residents of the area instead of others. 

Keyshawn Davis, one of the national champions getting honored Friday, didn’t n hold back his displeasure. 

  "I don’t really appreciate them trying to kick us out," he commented.  "I feel like we bring so much good here. Its like why you trying to kick us out for what we bringing here. Like you should bring us in and keep motivating us."

For Steady, he saw this from the beginning and it really hurts what’s happening.

"My grandfather is from here, my father is from here.  I'm third generation from here.  My son was born here. Now you want to flip the city upside down because of tax dollars? That’s what it's all about? You rather get a dollar than save a kid save a life? Doesn't make sense."

Everything is up in the air for this special gym. But one thing is clear: giving up is not an option.

"I’m going down fighting," Johnson told the crowd. "I’ve been here all my life. 58 years across the street.”

Correction: The on-air version of this story stated that the city wanted to use the space for adult fitness classes, exclusively for residents of the area . That is not the case. The city actively expressed a focus on serving its resident community but did not say to what extent. 

© 2018 WUSA-TV


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