South Minneapolis boxing club offers community through sport

Ludy Webster is waiting at the front of his boxing studio for his students. Children are shrieking with excitement as swinging punching bag chains creak.

Ludy’s Boxing Gym, located in south Minneapolis, is a place where everyone gets greeted by the owner with a hug, high-five and / or handshake.

The chorus of “Hey Ludy!” returns the greeting. The students return the greetings before they swarm into the gym. Some are stretching, others are waiting for their coach’s instructions.

Webster, 56 years old, began boxing when he was 13 years old. He credits his career as a boxer with keeping him away from trouble. He hoped that by opening his gym in 2021 he could provide the same outlet to others in his hometown.

Webster stated, “It helped me to remain disciplined as I aged.” “I was boxing in my late teens and early 20s.” My friends would go to the bar, and so would I, but I never drank or did anything bad, because I knew that I had a match coming up.

Webster raises money for the gym, a non-profit organization. The gym offers kids boxing classes at a discount and supports a group young, competitive boxers.

Webster and a co-founder spent $40,000 from their savings to rent the building in 2021 and buy equipment. U. S. A. Boxing also donated $10,000, an organization that helps new gyms.

Webster’s income is still derived from his plumbing business, even though the boxing club has broken even. After paying for the gym, Webster spends any extra money on more boxing equipment, water bottles, and Gatorade drinks for children.

Webster stated, “It’s starting to be tight for us.” “I barely make it with all of our bills and rent.”

Webster’s “for-profit” side of the gym, which sells memberships and adult classes as well as classes for children and adults, helps him finance his goal to train boxers to travel and represent Minneapolis at national competitions.

Webster admitted that it is difficult to manage two businesses – one for money, and another for passion – almost all by himself. He can be responsible for organizing car washes, fundraisers, and free memberships to volunteers, as well as teaching boxing lessons, including two children’s sessions, about 12 adult trainings, and a beginner’s course each week.

Boxers may also choose to purchase a membership or pass at a gym for more access. Costs start at $25 per day for access to a class or the gym and go up to $150 for unlimited access by a whole family.

Webster’s clients agree that he is the main selling point for the gym, even though he admits it doesn’t come naturally or easily to him.

Miguel Arroyo’s son attends Webster’s classes two times a week. “He is very supportive of the children,” Miguel Arroyo said. The environment was very welcoming. “That’s why we continued to go.”

Webster attracted 60 new clients when the gym first opened its doors through social media and flyer distribution. The gym now has 115 members.

Webster stated that “it just took off.” He hopes to eventually double the size to accommodate more customers.

Webster’s good reputation led Damarius Gilbert, a local boxer who competes in the amateur ranks, to join Webster a year before. Gilbert says that Webster, as a coach creates an environment for boxers to grow in which is warm and comfortable.

Gilbert explained, “I had to find a coach.” “I was welcomed into the family as soon as I arrived. It was an amazing first experience.”

Gilbert says that being able to box has improved his mental and physical health. Having a coach that prioritizes building personal connections with the students has also been a game changer.

Gilbert stated that “boxing has improved my life.” It changed me into a man of better character.

Webster’s relationship with students has grown in the past two years that he has owned the gym. This is especially true with a group teenagers who come to the gym regularly to do their homework and spend time with friends.

Webster told him, “You’re not just a coach. “You are a father figure.” A psychiatrist. You are helping the children mentally because they are trying to find their way in life. “They’ve got more questions than just boxing questions.”

Webster, with the help of other gym volunteers and older boxers, creates a fun class for children ages 6-14. The class includes intense cardio, running exercises, correct stance, and punch technique. The class is set to Disney songs.

Justin Hill, who has more than 10 years of experience in boxing, helps to teach these classes. He maintains the energy required to keep up with 12 spirited students eager to punch a grownup. Hill said that Ludy has a sense of community not found in other boxing clubs.

Hill smiled down at Ayla who was bouncing around the gym wearing a rainbow ribbon in her hair. “My daughter loves to hang out with other kids. “When I was a child and boxed it kept me from getting into trouble.”

“I just feel like there’s more care and love here.”


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