The Augusta Boxing Club’s rich history of success in and out of the ring was recently recognized by the city and will be celebrated this weekend.
The club is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year as a means of keeping children off the streets after school by offering athletic opportunities to the community. Its motto, “It’s better to sweat in the gym than bleed in the streets,” has been a staple in Augusta since 1976.
“It means a lot for the kids,” club director Ray Whitfield said. “It gives the kids somewhere to go after school, to have somewhere to go as a safe haven and keep them out of trouble. It means a lot for the community of Augusta.”
Whitfield got his start in the program at 10 years old and eventually grew into a world champion, then put his career on hold to lead the club that helped develop him. The program has produced several successful fighters over the years, including Olympic qualifiers and youth national champions.
“I’m very proud of carrying on the tradition,” Whitfield said. “I came through this program, and now to be running the program and being an advisor to the youth, it means a lot to me.”
The city recognized the Augusta Boxing Club’s efforts Wednesday by awarding a proclamation from Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis, which was presented by commissioner Bill Fennoy. The proclamation stated April 2, 2016 as “Augusta Boxing Club Day” in honor of the club’s anniversary.
“Ray Whitfield has done an outstanding job in putting his career aside and be a positive role model for the kids who come here,” Fennoy said. “It takes a lot of hard work in order to do what he’s doing, and I’m glad he has the staff that’s supportive of his efforts and wants to see disadvantaged kids do well.”
The club will hold a celebration today with 23 boxing matches at the Walton Way facility. Weigh-ins begin at 11 a.m. and matches start at 5 p.m. Tickets are $10. The matches feature fighters from several states.