One last card before TNT moves into new home

Rob Massey, Guelph Sports Journal

GUELPH – The TNT Boxing and Fitness Academy will leave their home of seven years with one last final card there this weekend.

The club will move from its current location on the west side of Wyndham Street between Wellington and the corner where Wyndham turns into York Road during the Christmas holidays into new digs on Dawson Road.

“They’re building condominiums, 14-storey condominiums, here,” TNT founder Joel Yip Chuck said. “I knew that when we first moved in here, but it could’ve been two years or it could’ve been 10 years. Seven years later, here we go.”

Saturday night the club is to host its final Dynamite Fights card and will have many of its fighters in action.

“We ran 18 shows in this gym and 90 percent of them were really successful,” Yip Chuck said. “None of them failed, but they were just a little bit low key. Ninety percent of them were really packed. A lot of champions were built out of this gym. We grew a big youth program and grew a big fitness program.”

The move will also take the club out of the downtown area.

“The club was born out of my apartment – the living room of my apartment downtown on Wyndham Street,” Yip Chuck said. “I had six members at the time. It was just boxers, competitive boxers, and then we moved into another space just in the basement in a unit on Wyndham, a couple of doors down. I always lived close to my gym or in my gym. We had probably about 30 members and we moved with those 30 members into this gym and it was a struggle in the beginning. It was a big risk to move into a space that was three or four times the size of the old place, but we built it slowly.”

It took a while and a few different configurations, TNT got the place they’re moving out of to look like a boxing gym. The ring is tucked in one end of the facility, right beside the punching bags and there’s room to skip rope. Not a lot of room, but there is room. And the whole place is a little rough around the edges.

“A lot of people loved the look of the gym. We attracted a lot of boxing purists,” Yip Chuck said. “Boxing people came here. Promoters and professionals came in here and they loved the look of the gym. That’s great, but it was very hard to keep clean.”

That’s because anyone attending the gym walked into it straight from a gravel parking lot, usually through an open garage door that served as the gym’s front wall. And the gym was usually too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. To help cool it down and air it out in the summer, the garage door was often left open throughout the day. Of course, any car that drove in the parking lot sent dust into the gym.

While the club has to move, it’s almost outgrown facility anyway.

“We learned a lot of things over the seven years,” Yip Chuck said. “I have two other trainers now, a massive competitive team, professionals, Olympians, Pan-American Games, Canadian champions and provincial champions so we need to be able to house them and have a space to provide for them. We want to have a space to provide for the youth program that we have. We have a big youth program. And, obviously, our personal training program – a lot of people are coming to us for that purpose, their time in the gym. They want to get a great workout.”

They’ll also have the new place set up the way they want it from the start. Again lessons learned at the current facility will be taken into account.

“It’s another 1,000 to 1,100 square feet. It’s a long rectangle,” Yip Chuck said. “The good thing is we get to set it up. We get to tear it down and set it up the way we want to set it up.

“We want to be able to maximize that space there and set it up so that every program has space. We’ll have showers in the new place and bathrooms are set up there. We’ll have a nice seating area and we’ll be able to host shows, not in a cramped space, but in a nice space.”

Yip Chuck will have mixed emotions when the club moves, but he hasn’t thought much about that.

“There are great memories here,” he said. “I don’t know how I’ll feel. There’s so much work to do there are no emotions right now, but I’m sure the last day we close this place down, it’ll be a thing. I think it’ll be more a celebration of it. One more show and we’re going to absolutely have fun in the last month, December 2017, in this place and then it’s straight into the new place.

“We’ll have two weeks that I think we’ll close down, the Christmas weeks, to move everything over because we want to make sure it’s done properly. It’s coming up soon. It feels like there’s a lot of time, but there’s not much.”

As for memories he has of the soon-to-be-vacated gym, one comes quickly to Yip Chuck’s mind.

“I think it has to be the fight that I fought in. It was the best night of my life aside from my kids being born. My kids were here and they were able to witness that for the first time and the only time ever and ever will be. It was the most nerve-wracking night, but ended up being the best night. I was able to bring them into the ring and I have pictures of that. It was the loudest this gym has ever been for any show and we had some good ones. It was memorable, for sure.”

Bouts on the Dynamite Fights 23 card are to start at 6 p.m.