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Boston Herald
Boston Herald
2 Sep 2023
Lance Reynolds


NextImg:‘Guns down, gloves up’: Boxing gym opens in Roxbury, the neighborhood’s first in 40+ years

Jamaica Plain native Jose Lora is sick and tired of seeing children engage in violence across Boston.

He lives by the motto of ‘Guns down, gloves up.’

And that’s exactly what he hopes to see happen with the addition of a boxing ring at 1 More Rep Athletics, a gym that he opened in 2020 on Partridge Place, a tight alleyway off of Dudley Street in Roxbury.

Members, friends and families flocked to 1MR on Saturday for the grand opening of the gym’s boxing ring, a moment that Lora said was 10 years in the making. It also marks the first time Roxbury has had such a facility in more than 40 years.

“Kids over here are always carrying guns and only shooting each other, stabbing each other,” Lora told the Herald before a ribbon-cutting celebration. “Back in the days, you had guns down, gloves up, meaning you settled your differences in the ring and became friends from there. The community that needs it the most are the people who don’t have access to quality equipment, quality coaching. We are bringing it here.”

Safe recreational spaces are hard to come by in Roxbury.

Just a half mile away from 1MR is Clifford Playground, a park that is littered with needles, human feces and other trash despite the city’s efforts to keep it neat and tidy.

The venue’s proximity to the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, a growing homeless encampment prone to violence, drugs and human trafficking, just recently displaced a Pop Warner football program from practicing there.

Clifford Playground has received little attention from city councilors, none of whom attended a walk-through the Parks and Recreation Department held last month to receive community feedback amid initial stages of a redesign effort.

City Councilor At-Large Julia Mejia did show up to 1MR on Saturday, however.

“You have no idea how incredibly emotional it is to be here,” Mejia told those who attended the grand opening of the boxing ring. “As someone who grew up here in the city of Boston, we have to fight for everything … To have a gym here in Roxbury, an opportunity for us to literally walk down the street and let it all out in here as instead of let it all out on the streets, speaks volumes to what this place is going to do in the city of Boston.”

Neighborhood resident Miriam Paredes has been bringing her daughters, ages 7 and 12,  to 1MR for over a year. The fact that the gym tailors to adults and children simultaneously is very welcoming, she said.

Paredes’ girls have made friends with other members, and they are excited to learn how to box, the mother said.

“To us, having our girls here has been very helpful because Roxbury is not the safest neighborhood,” she said. “Having a place where they can come and be active, and feel safe at the same time, has been great.”

It took 10 years for Lora to build 1MR to what it is today. He said he worked seven days a week, splitting time at the Boston Transportation Department, as a personal trainer at several gyms and as a security officer at Carney Hospital in Dorchester.

Over the course of seven years, Lora said he saved enough funds to invest $400,000 into the business.

Lora had his eyes set on opening a boxing gym ever since he opened his business in 2020, but he had to wait for a construction company that had been using the next-door space as storage to move out.

Chelsea native John Ruiz, a retired boxer who became the first Latino to win a world heavyweight title, gave his boxing ring to Lora.

1MR has about 100 to 150 members, and Lora said he expects the addition of the boxing ring will attract a lot more kids.

“Now, the parent can be taking classes, while your child could be taking boxing,” he said. “We are targeting families to come and be part of something unique, not these big commercial gyms that don’t really care about who you are.”

Memberships used to cost $60 per month for access to classes and the gym, Lora said, but prices are increasing a bit as the business adds its second building with the boxing ring.

Basic memberships will now start at $100 per month, and members who want a coach and to take classes will be paying $180, figures Lora said are much more affordable than other nearby gyms.

Allen Turner has worked at the gym as head manager and trainer since its opening, and he’s learned every member’s name. Trainers aim to be as involved with their members as possible, he said.

Members are ages 5 and up, and Turner said special focus is put on the youth.

“We show them just how much better of a lifestyle there is as well as giving them much more enlightenment than fitness versus what they think is ‘Oh, you just want me to do this,’” he said. “No, I want you to do it because it’s something bigger than I’m actually giving you.”

ROXBURY, MA - Marcus Rubiere, 10, pretends to spar with Joshua Lora, 4, at the newly opened 1More Rep Athletic boxing gym in Roxbury. A formal grand opening ceremony was held Saturday. (Photo by Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald)

Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald
Marcus Rubiere, 10, pretends to spar with Joshua Lora, 4, at the newly opened 1More Rep Athletic boxing gym in Roxbury. (Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald)

ROXBURY, MA - Guests watch and take pictures of sparring action at the newly opened 1More Rep Athletic boxing gym in Roxbury. A formal grand opening ceremony was held Saturday. (Photo by Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald)

Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald
Guests watch and take pictures of sparring action at the newly opened 1More Rep Athletic boxing gym in Roxbury. (Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald)

ROXBURY, MA - Rodney Tony, left, spars with Juanita Raymond in a boxing ring at the newly opened 1More Rep Athletic boxing gym in Roxbury. An official grand opening was held Saturday. (Photo by Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald)

Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald
Rodney Tony, left, spars with Juanita Raymond in a boxing ring at the newly opened 1More Rep Athletic boxing gym in Roxbury. (Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald)

ROXBURY, MA - Boston City Councilor-at-large Julia Mejia, right, welcomes guests and says a few words during an official opening ceremony at the newly opened 1More Rep Athletic boxing gym in Roxbury. At left are owners Michelle Rubiera and José Lora. (Photo by Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald)

Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald
Boston City Councilor-at-large Julia Mejia, right, welcomes guests and says a few words during an official opening ceremony at the newly opened 1More Rep Athletic boxing gym in Roxbury. At left are owners Michelle Rubiera and José Lora. (Mark Stockwell/Boston Herald)