How Casper Boxing Club is Helping Make a Difference In Their Community

Local boxing gyms are making an impact in their communities every day. By providing a safe, and supportive enviornment for the boxers who step through their doors,  boxing gyms help to shape and mold the character of young people through a strict regimen of discipline, dedication, and a goal-oriented mindset.

We spoke with Annie Clark, Executive Director of Casper Boxing Club in Casper, Wyoming to get an idea of the type of impact that her gym is having on the local community

How did Casper Boxing get its start?

Casper Boxing Club was formed around 25 years ago, but until recently lived pretty much any place that people would let us. From garages, to warehouses, and even [head coach] Clayton Jensen’s garage. Around three years ago Clayton, his wife Gloria, and longtime friend Henry Silva, teamed up with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming and Jonah Bank and set out to build The All American Center for Youth.

Their vision for the Center was for it to house a state of the art boxing facility, along with a financial literacy center to teach youth the importance of strong financial skills. It was around this time that Clayton approached me and shared with his dreams for the Center. I had boxed in the gym for eight years prior, and formed a strong bond with Clayton as a coach, friend, and mentor. Our team went onto gain enormous community support, enough so that today our dream has finally come true. CBC now has a home. The club was also fortunate enough to be outfitted with brand new equipment, and the planned financial literacy center is scheduled to open in 2015.

What type of kids come to the gym? What kinds of backgrounds do they come from?

We have youth from all walks of life, however a higher number of them come from rough backgrounds. We see a lot of kids in the foster care system. But at the same time we have high school rodeo kids, and those with 4.0 GPAs in school. It’s a great mix, and [the kids] all help each other out in different ways. 

Why should others become involved in boxing?

For me personally it has dug me out of a huge hole that I was in for a very long time. I came from an abusive relationship and the first time I came to the gym I could hardly look into a mirror let alone believe that I could possibly defend myself against and type of situation in my life. Now I am the Executive Director of a club that literally saved my life. I have the opportunity to help young kids, girls in particular, to avoid walking down the same roads that I walked down and in turn making their lives much more full.

What kind of training do your amateur fighters participate in?

[Head coach] Clayton focuses on a strong conditioning program with the boxers. They try to spar as much as possible and push each other. The training program brings the team together as they are able to point out weaknesses, and also strengths in each other. Sometimes the most inexperienced boxer may end up being able to help the more experienced boxer work out a bug that they are struggling with.

What measures do you follow to ensure boxer safety?

We follow the safety procedures of USA Boxing. When we do spar there are always at least four coaches in the gym. [Our head coach] Clayton has also refereed for many years.

What do your kids get out of the hard training needed for amateur boxing?

That’s a really great question, because it’s not what a lot of people would expect, especially those who do not know much about the sport of amateur boxing. At CBC we find that the most valuable things that our kids get out of the program, reach far beyond the boxing ring. It’s our mission to use amateur boxing, and boxing fitness, as a mechanism to deter behavioral problems, aggression, and substance abuse, and to instill a paradigm centered upon critical thinking and self-control.

Our main focus is to create an environment for individuals who may not otherwise have the opportunity – to reach young people who have been written off as “unreachable” – and to restore their potential by offering them a chance to live a healthy, positive and productive life.

How has boxing helped change the lives of the kids you train?

We’ve seen past and present members go onto become strong leaders in our community. We even have former boxers who have become entrepreneurs and are now some of the clubs top supporters. Ten years, one year, at times even one month with a positive influence and positive instruction can be life-changing for these kids. We also have formed Wyoming’s first Police Athletics League PAL of Central Wyoming. I am able to give back every single day, and there is not better feeling in the world!

Why should others support the sport of amateur boxing?

I believe boxing is the only sport that is able help youth in ways that are literally larger than life. Many kids are fighting real battles every single day, battles that are more difficult than any they will ever have inside the boxing ring. Amateur boxing instills in youth, confidence, problem solving skills, accountability, passion and purpose. All of these are valuable skills that every human being has the right to learn.