Can’t find a nearby gym, coach, or anybody to train with?
- Just start your own boxing club!
It’s fun, cheap, and also one of the most rewarding things in life. I started my own over 10 years ago and grew it to 300+ members eventually. It’s the best thing in the world. You’re having tons of fun and freedom that you wouldn’t have in somebody else’s boxing gym or in a commercial gym. And you become lifelong buddies for life. Some of our members even married each other!
Here are the steps I took to build my own little boxing community:
Starting your own boxing club
Believe me, it’s a lot of fun and not as impossible as you think. It’s also not what you expect it is either. Here are 10 steps you can use to build a thriving boxing club, and later even your own boxing gym!
1. Learn some boxing
Haha, I know. Maybe the point of you searching for a club was to learn how to box. But here’s what I meant. You can learn about the sport using just the internet (you are on my site, after all). Watch some videos, read some articles. Build up your passion so you can share it with others.
Learn how to box (online)
You’ve got tons of great online coaches. Try them all and see which styles or instruction style fits you best. If you don’t have much experience, I highly recommend keeping an open mind and trying all methods and techniques. It’s very common for beginners to think they want to fight only like Mike Tyson or only like Floyd Mayweather. It’s an extremely limiting attitude and prevents you from becoming the best boxer YOU can be. Everyone is different and everyone needs different things to grow their craft.
- I like Johnny from expertboxing.com (hahaha), Youtube channel – I do comprehensive write-ups and also like to cover all kinds of techniques from beginner to advanced.
- Jason from precisionstriking.com, Youtube channel – really like this guy. Legit boxer AND great coach on camera.
- Fran Sands from myboxingcoach.com, Youtube channel – older boxing coach from the UK. This guy trashes me a lot online whenever I show any unconventional or “bad” advice. Hahaha, I think he hates me. Many of his techniques are totally different from how I would teach them, and that’s the value in it. Try something else, ok?
- Shane Fazen from fighttips.com, Youtube channel – legit boxing skills and also knows kickboxing and MMA. Also a great coach for kids fighting on the streets, or self-defense against bullies.
- Charles “Lucky” Brandon only has Youtube channel – pro level, easily the best boxer of all of us. He doesn’t make too many videos, but they are short and straight to the point (which can be lacking minute details for total beginners).
- Coach Rick “The Mittologist” – really legit padman with that popular Mayweather-style padwork that you see on Youtube. I bought his videos and like them. I think an even better is the HIT Fit SF guy in San Francisco, but he doesn’t make or sell any videos to teach you how to do it..
- SF Nob Hill
- Russian Lady – yeah yeah, she speaks in Russian but attention and don’t a goddamn fool. Figure it out what she’s saying. It’s just boxing, not heart surgery. I had to learn some of my boxing in Spanish. You can certainly do it in Russian, ok?
- Plenty more out there…look them up! (Please don’t waste your time with flashy drills on Facebook/Instagram. They’re there because weird stuff gets lots of likes on social media. Most real boxing training looks boring.)
Learn the history of boxing
Boxing history is rich with culture and memorable moments. Many boxers have also left an imprint not only inside the boxing ring but out of it as well…affecting other sports, movies, music, dance, politics, and just humanity in general.
- BoxingScene.com – current news in the professional boxing world
- Marquess of Queensbury Rules (WIKI) – the official rules of boxing
- cyberboxingzone.com – lots of old school archives and fun reads about boxing history
- The Ring Magazine (wiki) – see most impactful boxing champions/moments over the years.
- The Ring Magazine (annual ratings) – check out all the champions over the years.
2. Get a friend
Anyone! Any able-bodied person willing to try some boxing. Seriously, two people are all you need to start training. It’s great if you’re both similar size and fitness-level but it doesn’t really matter. Just don’t hurt each other and you’ll be alright!
Start training together:
- Workout together.
- Run together.
- Lift weights together.
- Hit the bags together.
- Hold mitts for each other.
- Practice sparring with each other – please go light! (Don’t destroy your only friend, read: Boxing sparring for beginners)
3. Set a schedule (meetup time & place)
Set a regular schedule. Preferably a day/place/time when both of you can always make it. Once you have a friend and a schedule…things come together pretty quickly.
Choosing a training location
Be creative! Anywhere with space can work!
- Backyard/garage – can close or open, lots of air for comfort, can hang heavy bag, play music
- Public park – lots of space and freedom, meet/recruit others
- Indoor gym – conveniently nearby other workout equipment
- Local martial arts club – good for recruiting fighters of other disciplines
- Local church or community center – may have space available
- College gym room – many have open rooms
- Rent a space – you will probably grow into this at some point. There are tons of cheap/unused warehouses.
Training in PUBLIC vs PRIVATE
Training in public may sound scary and potentially embarrassing but believe me, this can be one of the best things ever. Pick a local park some place where you might run into other people or other people can run into you. Other people might watch and get curious. Come over and say hi to them. Make friends and invite them to your next boxing session.
Training in private can also be very beneficial. You have privacy to do your own thing. You can even spar without scaring people who might think you’re fighting. Training can also allow you to control the atmosphere better. Your own music, your own vibe, without any outside distractions. The bigger your club gets, the more you’ll prefer to have your own private space.
The best day and time is usually on a day when you know nobody has to do anything else. Little kids are probably most free on weekends (since they don’t have a car or friends to meet up with). But for high-schoolers, college age or above, weekends are the worst…because that’s when they’re most likely to go out partying somewhere. I recommend a typical “boring day” of the week, like anywhere from Monday-Thursday. I did my boxing club on Fridays…and it was a success but I don’t expect others to count on it.
The best time IMO is anywhere from afternoon to evening. The key thing is timing it with DINNER and TRANSPORTATION. I love it when you guys can train and then go grab something to eat together. This builds camaraderie and friendships quicker than anything else. The issue about transportation is also important. In small towns, pick times when other members can use public transportation. In big cities, pick times when other members don’t have to drive through traffic.
You can do whatever you like. I highly recommend starting with only one day a week. If you have multiple days per week, members will come on different days which takes the energy out of your meet-ups. One day a week is enough to make it not feel like a chore. Long enough to get a great training session and then miss boxing a little and get excited for the next one.
Having fun is a thousand times more important than having “the most IMPOSSIBLE workout ever”. People who train to 100% usually quit after a couple tries and stop going because they don’t feel up to the task. They’ve set this impossible standard and now feel like training sessions aren’t worth it if they can’t give 100%. You’re not a pro athlete, ok? This is a hobby where you have fun, and getting in shape happens to be the side-effect of it.
4. Get boxing equipment
You don’t need much equipment to start boxing. Start with only the basics. Then slowly collect over time. I’m sure you can buy used gear for cheap or even get free stuff. Tons of people have old exercise equipment laying around that they don’t want anymore.
- 2 pairs of boxing gloves and some wraps
- 1 pair of mitts
- heavy bag is nice as well
- headgear and mouthpieces are required for sparring
Other boxing gear:
- Double-end bags are cheap
- Good speed-bag platforms can be bought for cheap used. (Never buy cheap speed-bag platform.)
- Can make your own “ring” with some posts and ropes.
- Jumpropes are cheap
- Portable boxing timer
Other training equipment:
- can get used weights (dumbbells, barbells and weight benches)
- can get old exercise bikes and treadmills
5. Share your training sessions
Use the power of social media!
Start posting up your training sessions and progress on social media. Mkae videos and post Facebook or whatever other social network you use. I’m sure your friends and even friends of friends will be curious. Invite them to your sessions. The more, the merrier!
Show that you’re having fun and getting in shape. Try not to show highlight reel footage of you knocking somebody out…that stuff scares people from trying. You’d be surprised; even the toughest/biggest people are afraid of getting hurt. Most people feel like they’re not good enough to start boxing yet, and you need to convince them that anyone can box!
Ignore the haters!
Certain networks, like Youtube, are especially filled with random trolls and immature people who leave silly comments saying they could do it a thousand times better, or that they could kick your ass easily. Don’t worry about those clowns. Just stay positive and enjoy what you do. Trust me, other folks will be curious to join you.
Besides…legit fighters don’t have time to be critiquing other fighters online; they’re busy focusing on their own boxing goals. That hater comment is just some kid with nothing better to do. Ignore them!
6. Recruit other members
If you’ve been doing all the previous steps properly, your group should be growing pretty quickly by now. All you need is the core members (5-10), and the rest will grow so much faster than you think.
Building the core members
This is easily accomplished by bringing in other friends that you know. Within a matter of months, I’m sure you can each bring at least 5-10 friends to your training sessions. Some people will love it and stay. Others will never come back. It’s normal.
Don’t know how to invite people? It’s easy. Look for people who workout and say, “Hey, want to try boxing?” It’s even easier if they see your posts on social media and they ask you about it.
Growing beyond the core members
People will start bringing people who bring other people. People bring their friends, siblings, roommates, coworkers, boyfriend/girlfriend. It’s only a matter of time before you see strangers at every training session. Enjoy the new faces. Talk to them, ask about their lives. Talk about their other sports, their jobs, whatever else they like to talk about. People love hanging out with friends, so become a friend!
Helpful people to watch out for
- people with boxing experience
- people with other fighting experience
- fitness trainers
- legal, profession
- friendly folks
I tell you this from my own experience. Don’t judge or make any assumptions about anybody. You will be wrong many times and made a fool for it! You should allow all positive characters to be part of your club no matter what. Different gender, religion, body type, athleticism, intelligence, or whatever differences they may have should be ignored. Try to be inclusive. As long as they’re good people, let them in and make an effort to connect with them.
That fat kid might shed 100lbs and become a heavyweight champion in 5 years. That skinny kid might grow a ton of muscle. That little girl might end up taking boxing seriously and competing more than you ever do. That random martial arts kid always kicking the speedbag might actually turn out to be the hardest puncher. That old man might have been a boxing champion back in his days.
Keep out the negative guys
As with any club and especially with an aggressive/violent sport like boxing, you’re bound to attract all kinds of troublesome characters. You have to be careful! Boxing attracts people who LOVE TO HURT OTHER PEOPLE. (Haha, I kinda love it too but I do have limits.)
Here are the obvious offenders:
- random people looking for a fight or “fight club”
- gangsters, thugs, street kids
- criminals trying to “up their game”
- bullies looking for easy targets to beat up
- people who always show up drunk, high, and/or bring substances to the gym
- people with anger management or other psychological issues
- personal trainers only hunting for clients
- trained fighters looking for easy sparring practice
- boxing managers looking for B-side “losers”
7. Set a culture
Once you have a bunch of people together, you’ll probably need some rules, beliefs, etiquette, atmostphere, and vibe to control your society. Without these things in place, your club can feel wild and unruly…hard to control and without any order or organization.
The good thing is that you’ve probably already set a culture without knowing it. People naturally copy other people so whatever you’ve been doing has already caused others to do the same. I’m willing to bet if you ever noticed anything going differently, it’s probably because either A) you took a break and then came back after some time, and/or B) someone else took over and brought in more of their kind of people.
In any case, it’s important to think about the culture you’re setting in place:
- What are the boxing club’s goals? (Have fun? Get in shape? Compete?)
- What are the rules? (Be nice? Don’t hit too hard? Help beginners?)
- What is the atmosphere? (Playful or serious? Why not both?)
What’s allowed? What’s not allowed? What’s the club’s unique personality? The club always reflects the personality of its leaders!
Have a routine
The bigger your club gets, the more helpful it is to get a routine. Don’t just meet up and stand around without an idea of what to do.
Your club should allow for 3 types of members:
- Members with their own personal routine – let them do whatever they want
- Members without a routine – rope them all and give them something to do. Show them the basics and assign them to different “station” and drills/workouts. Make it easy for the introverted/shy folks to engage so they don’t feel out of place.
- Members that don’t want to do anything – let them hang out. Their casual vibe adds to the chill factor of your club. Unless your club is intended to be a hardcore champion-factory, it’s nice to have people joking around and lightening the mood. It shows your club can have fun even if you don’t box. If anything, those people do the most important task of all–making workouts seem like a party!
What to do with people who don’t work out.
There are many coaches and trainers who don’t like casual fans. People just standing around doing nothing and even distracting the athletes from training. But I’m more of the mentality that those people are still useful in many ways. Don’t just let them stand around and joke and be a distraction.
Tell them to hold the camera, or record stuff and put on social media. DJ the music. Help hold pads or learn how to wrap people’s hands and tie people’s gloves. Make food runs. Trust me…many people who don’t know how to box or aren’t confident to try it still would love to be a part of the action somehow. Engage them!
Worst of all..don’t even treat someone like a lesser being just because they can’t box or aren’t in the greatest shape. Take care of everyone and they will take care of you!
8. Start a chat group
No more bombarding your public Facebook timeline with boxing stuff. Create your own chat group or some kind of communication channel for you and all the other boxers. Share videos, memes, fight videos, jokes, whatever. You can post boxing and training stuff, talk about the latest fights…can even be non-boxing stuff. Strengthen your community by interacting with and engaging one another.
Facebook group, VK, Whatsapp, Snapchat, whatever you guys like to use!
9. Meet up outside of training
I don’t know which comes first: whether a successful club leads to members meeting up outside of boxing, or whether meeting up outside of boxing leads to a successful club. Either way, the point is to make real connections.
Meeting up for boxing-related events:
- watch boxing fights together (at home or bar)
- going to live fighting events (amateur or pro)
- shopping for fight gear together
- going to another boxing club/gym
Meeting up for non-boxing related events:
- catching post-workout meals together
- doing non-boxing workouts together
- party together (bar, house-party, social events)
- help each other with personal stuff (fixing cars, moving furniture, home repair)
Doing these kinds of activities together is how you go from just being “fellow gym members” to “real life friends”.
10. Foster leaders
If you’ve gotten this far then you know that your little club is not the little treehouse of friends you started with anymore. It’s now a massive group of many smaller circles and probably too many people for you to manage by yourself. I’m sure you might have even gotten to a place where you didn’t come for a few days and when you came back, you saw new people and new things going on at the club.
The more indians you have, the more chiefs you’ll need. Basically…you need more managers if you have more personnel. The good news is that most leaders naturally appear. Sure, you can empower some by tasking people with things and telling them to take charge. But there will always be those who naturally command respect and have no problems telling others what to do. It all works out. Some people mind their own business, and others mind other people’s business.
I think the most fun is when different sections of the gym have their own thing going on. Like a different mini-gym in every corner. And people are welcome to play in whichever theme-land they want.
I think the hardest thing at this point isn’t the growth anymore but to keep things friendly and personable. It’s really hard to get strangers to talk to other strangers when there’s so many people in the room. They just quietly tiptoe around each other and always buddy up with the people they already know. Back when you were a small club, it felt like all members treated each other like family whether the knew each other or not.
What to do with your successful boxing club?
Wow! Is it really that easy?
Yeaup! Get a friend and train together. Slowly over time, you add more friends and soon you have a little boxing club. At some point, somebody knows somebody who used to be a boxer and now you have a trainer. The ex-boxer can get you up to shape and enter you somewhere.
As you can see, having a successful boxing club has very little to do with boxing skills. Just be a good person, passionate about boxing, and share your passion. Ain’t much else to it.
What to do with your successful boxing club?
- Consider opening a commercial gym (or at least have a donation box by the door, and the water bottles)
- Create a team of competing fighters
- Make team shirts and gear
- Partner with your local school and police department to keep youth off the streets
- Partner with other boxing gyms (many will gladly let your club into their gym for free or discount group rate)
- Meetup with other clubs or gyms (fun training and sparring sessions, make friends…take turns doing field trips to each other)
- Start your own website and Youtube channel (hahahah)