PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – The Downtown Boxing Club is getting ready to open it’s doors for athletes all around the area at the end of October.
The concept for the club was born when co-owners Jennifer Burg, Chris Stamps and Felix Malespin were on a trip to New Orleans in January.
Stamps and Burg took a trip to the New Orleans boxing club to see Malespin hold a training session there.
“The feeling I got when I was there made me feel like I never wanted to leave. You walk in this place and it’s this cool warehouse, very similar to this in a way. Everyone is working out and it’s a family and we sat on this cool old leather couch that’s probably 30 years old,” Burg said.
The trio came back to Panama City and decided that the old warehouse on Luverne Avenue in downtown would be the perfect location.
Once they contacted the owner, they got to work immediately on turning their vision into a reality.
Now just nine months later, it looks like an authentic boxing club.
“Anything you would have seen in a boxing club in the 1940’s will be here. That’s the whole idea is you get to step back in time and re-experience a sport that’s been around for generations,” Stamps said.
One part of the trio, Felix Malespin, actually brings a wealth of actual boxing experience to the table.
He not only has trained professional boxers for year, but was a pro himself. The sport has been a part of his life since 1994 and he was inducted into the Amateur Hall of Fame in 2017.
He plans on coaching at the club and building an amateur team from area athletes.
“I wish I can bring the same thing here, starting fighters from scratch from an early age until I don’t know, maybe we will have some professional fighters out of Panama City, we’ll see,” Malespin said.
They plan on adding more to the gym too, like Pelaton bicycles, treadmills and a free weight area upstairs.
“We’re gonna have a 20 by 20 professional ring here and we’ll be able to put it up break it down. We’re hoping to close Luverne on and off to host fights out in the street and we also plan to host music events here as well,” Burg said.
While a bit goal of the club is to help Bay County residents with their right hook, they also hope the club will be a place for community members to come together.
“I really think boxing is a fun sports, it’s been around forever. I really believe people will be amazed at what the sport will do for them,” Malespin said.
The club opens up officially on Oct. 22.