12 Apr A Punch for Peace
By: Matt Pettinato
Altoona Boxing Club
1800 Union Ave. (Basement of UVA Club)
Altoona, PA 16601
Hours: MON-THURS 6:30pm-7:30pm
Mr. John Robertson, the operator of the Altoona Boxing Club, has always had one main goal: to keep young children off the streets and away from drugs. He accomplishes that objective by teaching the children the sport of boxing. For 46 years now, Mr. Robertson and his Altoona Boxing Club have been in the Altoona area serving the community. I do feel as though he serves his community because he provides everything for free: gloves, bags, a ring, and most importantly, boxing knowledge. Back in 1970, Robertson, a former boxer himself, opened the first location of the club on Chestnut Avenue and 11th Street. Over his ongoing 46 year stretch, he moved locations a few times, finally settling down at the current location which lies underneath the UVA Club off of Union Avenue.
It is extremely impressive to see Mr. Robertson work with the children….you can quickly tell this is truly his passion: boxing and insuring the positive outcome of our future generations. “We always have new kids and people coming in and I teach anyone who is willing to learn,” said Robertson. Girls are more than welcome, as are adults. You can tell that as long as someone is benefiting from the club, Mr. Robertson is happy. He even won the Blair County Community Service Award in 2000.
The inside of the Altoona Boxing Club is just what you would expect. A fierce looking open room with 5 heavy bags, a boxing ring, speed bags, and gloves. The walls are covered in boxing posters and motivation and of course they have a bell. They even dedicate a part of the wall to newspaper clippings of former and current members who have taken their boxing skills to the next level. All of these boxers quickly credit Robertson and the Altoona Boxing Club in helping them achieve greater heights. In the ring, members do 3 minute training sessions followed by a 1 minute break. Some of the club’s members are currently competing in the Golden Glove Amateur Boxing Competition.
Stephon Sanders, a freshman at Penn State Altoona, has spent some time training at the Altoona Boxing Club. He was kind enough to give us a review of his experiences.
“I always wanted to look for an alternative way to work out and also wanted to learn how to fight. So I realized boxing was my calling. I killed two birds with one stone. The first day came and I was so excited. As soon as I entered I wanted to get started as soon as possible. I met a man named Mr. Robertson. He is a very old school guy that is in insane shape for a man his age. He saw me and said, “Okay let’s get started.” He started me off with a one two and one two three combo. He taught me the motion of how to punch and what stance to be in. He explained everything very well and I caught on quickly. After he felt I was okay enough to train on my own he told me to do mirror training and then bag training with the moves I learned that day. I enjoyed every second of it and was sweating like a waterfall because it was a workout. I learned so much in that one day and really enjoy the atmosphere the boxing gym brings. Whenever I have time I attend and always have a blast and learn something new.”
Mr. Robertson deserves a serious sense of respect. The fact that he has dedicated over four decades of his time to positively influence the younger generations of this area is really impressive. If you’re someone who is looking to learn a new sport or trying to get into better shape, the Altoona Boxing Club may very well be right up your alley.