A former boxing world champion is bringing his favorite sport, and some new ones, to Westchester Square.
Aaron Davis, who was the World Boxing Association welterweight champion in 1990, recently opened the Aaron Davis boxing gym at 1446 Commerce Avenue. Renovations to the space should be completed next month.
The finishing touches on the gym will be a 16-foot-by-16-foot cage made specially for Mixed Martial Arts fighting. The cage, known as an octagon, will be the only fighting cage in the Bronx, Davis said.
“MMA is a big sport,” said Davis. “It’s one of the fastest growing sports there is, so I figured why not bring that here too.”
Few gyms offer training for the sport, which has been growing in popularity for the past decade, so Davis expects it will be a big draw to his new gym, which also features classes in karate, training for serious boxers, and space for community members to work out and learn about the sport.
“There’s no workout like boxing. We have doctors, police and firemen coming to workout here just to get in shape,” Davis said. “I love boxing. It’s good for kids too. It helps to keep kids off the streets.”
So far the gym has about 250 members – 40 of which come mostly for the workout. Since it only opened up about nine months ago, Davis is pleased with the community’s response so far. Being close to all the medical and government offices in and around Westchester Square, the gym has a pretty regular crowd of clients that come to work out before the workday starts.
Currently the gym has a few heavy bags dangling from the ceiling, about three speed bags in various corners and a big boxing ring in the center. The basement floors are padded, but with steel beams throughout and a rough paint job, the place looks more like something out of “Fight Club” than “Rocky”.
But all that will change in a few weeks.
Davis plans to bring in mirrors on the top floor, and several new punching bags. He plans to put about six speed bags in a back room that he will open to the outside streets in the warmer months.
In the basement Davis plans to put in locker rooms, complete with showers and toilets for both men and women. He will pad the walls and re-paint everything else, so it will match the red, white and blue of the ring.
“This place was nothing when I took it over,” he said. “I predict by next summer, we should have 400 to 500 members.”
Kurt “the Bash” Calash, who leads Team Bash MMA at the gym, said he wanted to come to the Aaron Davis gym after training in Illinois with MMA legend Matt Hughes because it offered a unique opportunity to train serious fighters in a serious environment.
“We’re looking for real fighters. Kids who really want to get after it,” he said. “This was a good opportunity to get things going. And also we get to work with a former world champ.”