Members of the Alton Community Boxing Club who will be fighting soon. From left to right: Travis Willis, Trane Davis, Ju'coby Womack, Joshua Perkins and Landon Vegh.ALTON - There’s a new sport in Alton, and Coach Joshua Young wants the Riverbend region to know that the Alton Community Boxing Club is fighting strong.

In the past few months, Young and his fellow volunteer coaches have worked with over 100 people of all ages to build skills and fellowship both inside and outside of the ring. Now, they’re sharing their success and hoping to gain community support as the club grows.

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“Boxing is accepting and it gives second chances,” Young said. “No matter what your background is, you can come and belong. No one is compared here. No one is set up upon one another. Everyone, as soon as they walk in the door — that’s your brother. That’s your sister. This is your family…Hopefully, we grow as a family and stay together for years.”

Young and his coaches started the club earlier this year to provide a fun, safe space for kids to hang out after school and participate in a new sport. They quickly attracted boxers of all ages throughout the Riverbend community.

The club has grown into more than a sport, as the coaches have become mentors for the kids and the boxers have learned new, healthy ways to cope with emotions. Young said that the experience has been “empowering” for everyone involved. These days, they meet twice a week at the YWCA in Alton and compete in a USA Boxing-certified competition once a month, though Young hopes to do more.

“If I could run this seven days a week and have coaching staff and volunteers for seven days a week, those are seven days that we can provide a safe space. We can provide our harmonious environment and we can provide the mentorship,” Young said. “This is something that, if really supported and really given that city love, it could be something that would last lifetimes.”

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The boxing club participated in its first fight on Nov. 17, 2023, and 12-year-old Joshua Perkins brought home the club’s first trophy. Trane Davis and Ju’coby Womack, both 12, will box on Dec. 30, 2023, and both boys say they’re a little nervous but mostly excited.

Everyone in the club agrees that they love it and have grown a lot over the past few months. Their parents, too, noted that their children have shown more passion and engagement through the sport.

“It’s been pretty good,” Landon Vegh, 13, added. “Since I’ve started, I feel like my stamina has kind of gone up and I’ve gotten more in shape.”

This is exactly what Young and Dorothy Hummel, the YWCA’s executive director, want to hear. Their next goal is to purchase a boxing ring. The presence of equipment like a ring has been proven to bring boxers back to the sport, and Young and Hummel want to see kids consistently returning to the YWCA so they can benefit from the relationships formed in the Community Boxing Club.

“It helps kids,” Hummel explained. “Kids come on the weekends, and they get fed, and there are fellowship opportunities. Being a director here, I think one of the most important things kids need are connections. And the physical part is important, but boy, just having somebody care about you, show you respect and you respect them, that’s a beautiful thing.”

They will need $5,000 to purchase the ring, and they’re asking the community to consider helping out this holiday season by donating to the Community Boxing Club through the YWCA. You can visit their official website at, call (618) 465-7774 or stop by the YWCA at 304 E. 3rd Street in Alton for more information or to donate. You can also keep up with the Alton Community Boxing Club at their official Facebook page.

“It’s a lot of community love involved, so that’s kind of what we want to showcase,” Young added. “We want to show them growing in the sport. We want to show the ups and the downs and us going to different locations to fight and how we’re a family unit here and stuff like that. It’s made my heart warm. It’s been an honor to really stick this out.”

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