SUNNYSIDE — The alleyway doors of the Dungeon Boxing Club swung open like a powerful, one-two combination of physical training in step with a determined goal for helping youth.
The club received a $2,500 donation from CoBank from Colorado, on behalf of Kevin Riel, a board of directors member last week.
Sunnyside Daybreak Rotary President Jeff Barrom was speaking with Riel, president and chief executive officer of Double “R” Hop Ranches, Inc. about seeking out an opportunity to contribute some money locally, and through their conversation, the non-profit’s name came up — a ringside bell went off.
“That’s one of those things where you can only attribute to God. Everything we do, we believe that it’s him blessing us, and that’s one of those moments,” Boxing Club Founder and Coach Jose Ramos faithfully acknowledged.
Established by Jose and Teresa Ramos, the after-school group plans to use the funds for purchasing a new heavy-duty, sectional stand. The piece of training equipment will hold 17 various sized bags, nearly tripling the number the club has available to the 110 members ranging in ages from 8 and up.
“One of the most difficult things for us to do is turn down a kid because we didn’t have the space. It would break our hearts of having to say no to a kid.” Jose explained.
The former Sunnyside boxer and his wife began the program out of their two-car garage with 15 kids participating almost 10 years ago. The couple’s mission - helping youth accomplish what they have been led to believe was impossible.
Located at 528 E. Edison Ave. with an entrance through the back alley, the gym is open from 4-8 p.m., Sunday through Friday for age appropriate training classes running from 1 to 1.5 hours per session over multiple weekday evenings.
“We ended up getting this building, and the first month that we had it, we instantly outgrew it. We went from 15 to 50,” he added.
There are beginning and advanced classes, including a women’s workout session for girls 15 years in age and older, exclusively without any men in the facility, which is instructed by coach Teresa.
“I think what happens with a lot of these kids is they begin to build relationships with each other. So, they come and want to hang out with each other. They understand that when they’re here, we’re here to work,” stated Jose.
Some of the kids begin to hang out at school together, and the older boys maintain a watchful eye out on the younger athletes during lunch, coach noted.
“The club is a great way for youth in the Lower Yakima Valley to train in a sport, but also to learn life lessons that will help them become responsible adults and productive community members,” Riel said in a statement.
Jose voiced they wanted to provide an outlet for kids in their neighborhood and to get them off the gang infused streets.
“It’s just a beautiful thing where we just throw a lot of punches and love on each another.”