7th Street Boxing Club
Just off the freeway on the outskirts of Modesto, CA, is the 7th Street Boxing Club, named for professional boxer Tony “Bonz” Avila. In April of 2003 Avila had turned professional after working out for many years at the local public gym alongside his dad, Tony, who is not a boxer, but knows the ins and outs of good training. With this step they both lost their welcome at the gym they had previously called home.
The senior Tony Avila has a dedication to kids and the sport of boxing, so it was natural to start a gym too provide a wholesome atmosphere for both. It his conviction that there needed to be a place that gave direction for life and helped kids get off the streets by teaching the fundamentals of boxing, both aerobic and anaerobic, bag drills, etc. Tony says it is a misconception that boxing is all about getting in the ring. Most of the kids are just learning the sport and how to defend themselves. A very important factor for them is the option of scholarships to colleges such as Northern Michigan University, which is the primary goal for one of the hardworking boys.
Avila’s daughter is a teacher and her husband a counselor. They frequently send troubled kids to the Gym, knowing they are going to a place where they will get one-on-one attention, not just a place to exercise. It only took a week for one boy who was having trouble in his foster home to come out of his shell. People walk in and know we’re different.”
Bad to the Bonz Boxing Club is open from 4 to 8 Monday through Friday. On any given day there may be up to 45 people working out – a couple of them professionals. At the Gym there is no discrimination as to race, age, gender, or skill. There are a lot of women. Ages range from about 46 to five-year old Carmen, who comes with her brother Eddie.
Saturdays may find many of the participants at competitions. The first will be in Sacramento Feb 5, with another in San Jose Feb 12. There are a dozen girls signed up including Cecily Dela Rosa, 13 years old, who intends to be registered for San Jose./p>
There is a modest monthly fee, but Avila confides that he doesn'#8217;t turn anyone away for lack of that - he as sometimes paid from his own pockets for worthy kids and a friend of his donated the mats.
At 2000 square feet Bad to the Bonz Boxing Club isn’t as big as the hearts supporting it, but the owner has opted to have a place with no strings attached and the freedom to help kids get a direction in life that they have found for themselves and want to share.