On March 26, the local community turned out to support a fundraiser for Hollister’s Bulldog Boxing Gym. Organized by yoga instructor and sumo wrestling trainer Roy Sims, the event raised $2,100 to help owner Zeke Lopez with the expenses of building a new gym, following Bulldog’s eviction from its previous location in June 2021.
Sims grew up with the gym and said Lopez has been a mentor to him. He considers the gym an important asset for youth in the community.
“Bulldog Boxing Gym provides a safe refuge for kids who might otherwise find that refuge in unhealthy ways,” Sims said. “It is a place you can go where you are accepted, and you can take negative things like anger and craft that into something positive.”
According to Sims, the skills gained in boxing training can help build character in at-risk youth.
“You are not fighting someone else,” he said, “you are developing yourself through a new discipline. You are gaining self-confidence and through that self-confidence, you find a clearer path of who you are.”
Bulldog Boxing has been struggling to make do with a cramped, temporary location on Swope Alley, behind McKinnon’s Lumber, after its eviction by the city of Hollister from its longtime location at the corner of McCray Street and Gibbs Drive. The old gym was torn down to make room for a retention pond.
Lopez said Mmm Churros! Owner Mike Jones last year helped Bulldog relocate, but the place could accommodate only 12 kids, not the 30 kids he used to train in a day at the previous location.
“I don’t feel good about having to limit the number of kids. I have gotten two champions out of that little gym. If we can do that with a little gym, can you imagine what we can do with a bigger one?”
The new location will have more space than the original gym, enabling Lopez to work with 40 kids a day. At this point, getting the gym funded is the only obstacle.
“If we can get what we need,” he said, “we could be open in three weeks to a month. We already have the permits taken care of and it is just the building process. The cost for the next phase will be around $6,000 and then we have to get panels, sheetrock and roofing, so we need maybe $20,000 total.”
The fundraiser took place at the future site of the new gym, 640 McCray St, behind the Animation Dance Community studio, and was staffed by current and former students of the gym and their families.
Beef, chicken and pork tacos, as well as hot dogs, were available for purchase along with a variety of cookies and brownies from local bakers and chocolate donated by Marich Confectionery.
A raffle was also held, with prizes donated by local businesses including That Garlic Stuff, La Michoacana Paleteria y Neveria, Bella Vista Olive Oil, and Old City Hall Restaurant in Gilroy. The Bertao Real Estate Group gave a separate $100 donation.
San Benito County Supervisor Betsy Dirks, Hollister City Councilmember Rick Perez, and Gilroy Police Officer Juan Guevara, who is a candidate for San Benito County Sheriff, stopped by to offer support to Lopez and the gym.
“It’s programs like these that we need to strengthen us and create more positive relationships in the community,” said Guevara. “A friend of mine used to attend Bulldog Boxing and the level of passion he had about it showed how much it affected his life. You are giving kids something constructive to do rather than just roaming the streets and getting in trouble.”
Sims organized the event hoping to take in $1,000 in donations and was grateful to have received more than twice that amount.
“It really made me feel good to see the outpouring of assistance from the community,” he said. “And I think it helped the boys who train at Bulldog realize and appreciate that people are willing to come out to support them and help them get this gym built.”
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