New businesses continue to open up in fast-gentrifying parts of the south Bronx. As borough reporter Erin Clarke tells us, the newest addition is a boxing gym.
Thirty-six-year-old Eric Kelly is drawing inspiration from a history of boxing in the Bronx that include greats like three-weight world champion Iran Barkley and middle-weight champion Jake "the Bronx Bull" LaMotta.
He's opening up a gym called SouthBox.
"You've got legendary gyms in Brooklyn like Gleasons," Kelly said. "You've got Bed-Stuy Boxing and Manhattan has so many gyms, but what about the Bronx? The Bronx could really use another boxing gym."
SouthBox is right in the heart of a fast-gentrifying part of the south Bronx where developer Keith Rubenstein plans to build luxury high-rises. In fact, he helped Kelly get started here. However, the former amateur boxer and two-time Daily News Golden Glove Champ says he isn't trying to cash in on the neighborhood.
"So much is needed here especially from guys like myself who are from extremely similar situations," Kelly said.
He grew up in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn in the 1980s when drugs and crime were rampant. He says boxing helped keep him stay off the streets and he wants to do the same for young people in the neighborhood.
"You got the Mitchell Houses right here and you've got the police department right there, so that's what you're giving them," Kelly said. "They see criminals coming in and out. I want to give them solace, peace. I want to give them direction."
Kelly realizes that some people may think that boxing just isn't for them, but he says the sport is beneficial for everyone and he's looking forward to his gym making a big impact in this community.
"Boxing is a confidence builder," he said. "Boxing is therapy. Boxing is for weight loss."
Kelly says he wants to make his gym accessible to everyone and help turn around a borough that's consistently been ranked the unhealthiest among all 62 counties in the state.
Monthly membership with full access to the gym and classes will be about $40 he says and members negotiate their own fee with trainers.
SouthBox is expected to open officially later this spring.