After changing locations, coping with training equipment shortages and battling medical supply gaps, the Suga Knockout Boxing Gym at The Olympic Gardens Football Club in Kingston, Jamaica, has received upgrades that will allow it to continue serving young boxers in the community. The gym was founded in 2008 by Lindel “Suga” Wallace, a professional boxer turned coach. “I boxed for a couple years before turning professional. I love boxing so much that when I was done with it, I said I have to really turn into a coach,” Suga told reporters earlier this year. “For a long time I was asking for a place to call home and now I have it.”
The first phase of improvements to the Suga Knockout Boxing Gym were made from June 2021 to February 2022 with the help of the Gloves And Glory Youth Foundation and The Digicel Jamaica Foundation. The inside of the gym went through J$200,000 of upgrades, with new additions like fresh paint. Financial aid from Digicel, Shania Gordon and the Jamaica Boxing Association also outfitted the gym with boxing gloves, speed balls, punching bags, jump ropes, mouthpieces and personal protective equipment.
The second phase of renovations were centred around improving hygiene and sanitation. Trash removal and exterior improvements to the Cling Cling Oval pavilion were made through partnerships with Anthony Samson and S&G Road Surfacing Materials.
A number of dedicated gym patrons came to help out, including industry professionals like Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Jamaica Sports Federation Director Daniela Chacko-Wilmot, mixed martial art instructor Daniel Chacko-Wilmot, lead boxing coach Sakima Mullings and coach Felipe Sanchez. Pupils like Christopher Jackson, a student at the University of the West Indies Faculty of Sport, also participated in the renovations.
In a recent interview, Felipe Sanchez, Vice President of Suga Knockout Boxing Gym, elaborated on what the facility means to the youth in the community. “We don’t just teach them boxing; we teach them responsibility, so for me to see them grow as persons it brings me a lot of pride,” he said. “If boxing doesn’t go well, you have to fall back on something else and the perfect transferable skills that you get from boxing can help you. We want to make champions in the ring and also in life.”
The Suga Knockout Boxing Gym hopes to further empower youth in the community by improving their access to technology in a future phase three of the renovations. Suga and the rest of the team would like to add electricity and internet so children can pursue their education in a dedicated space with state-of-the-art technology. They are also eager to hire more coaches for training and positive mentorship.