Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Norwood Boxing Club may get new home - in Norwood

Group talks with bowling alley

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NORWOOD — The Norwood Boxing Club will have a new home if negotiations are successful between the boxing club's director and Jerry Bedinghaus, owner of Stone Bowling Lanes on Montgomery Road.

        Mr. Bedinghaus has about 3,000 square feet of second-floor space available that could be converted into a gym for the club, which has had to leave city-donated facilities in the old Norwood safety lane.

        The city needs the safety lane building at Mills and Walter streets to expand its public works department, store equipment and provide a place for law enforcement support operations such as meter readers.

        The boxing club has been helping young men straighten out their lives or simply enjoy the sport for 17 years.

        “We have entered into negotiations (to rent to the club) and we like to support youth activities,” Mr. Bedinghaus said. “This looks like it might be a real nice thing for us to do. But we have not sat down with the club yet to work it all out. It is not final.”

        Among his concerns is equipment installation — such things as suspending large punching bags from the ceiling and installation of a ring.

        Charies Cooper, head coach and director of the club, said he is willing to pay $500 a month in rent.

        Tom Breving, a broker for Tri-City Real Estate, said Mr. Cooper called him about another available location in the city but the rent was too high. Mr. Breving said he then suggested looking at the room above the bowling lanes as an alternative. The room has been used as a banquet facility.

        Mr. Cooper said he has seen the room and it appears suitable for the club's needs.

        However, the club now also needs to find a used ring because the ring it was using has been donated to Xavier University by Marty Smith, whose husband, Phil, started the Norwood Boxing Club in 1983.

        Mr. Cooper said he had hoped to use the ring for another two years until XU could find space for it; but the university decided it could take it now.

        Mr. Smith died in 1998 and Mr. Cooper took over as boxing club director. Mrs. Smith has donated the gym equipment, except the ring, to Mr. Cooper. A used ring will cost about $800 and do nations are being sought.

        The club has been training at a Northern Kentucky community center, but Mr. Cooper said he does not want to leave Norwood because of its central location and because most of the 23 boxers live in or near Norwood.

        Mayor Joe Hochbein has said the city does not want to see the club leave Norwood.

        “I hope they can find a new home here. I think they have done a lot of good,” he said.

        The city needs the safety lane space for expanding departments, it serves the city's need and conserves money — with the city paying only the costs to renovate part of the lane into office space, the mayor said.

        Mr. Cooper said some of the club's members are refer rals from the county's juvenile detention system. “Yes, we deal with troubled kids, but not all of them (are troubled). A lot of them just need a role model. Some don't have fathers,” Mr. Cooper said. “We try to build self-esteem, self-discipline to make our young men feel good about themselves and keep them away from drugs and the streets. Our goal is to teach them boxing and build character,” Mr. Cooper said. The club is affiliated with the national BBC organization — Building a Better Community Through Amateur Boxing — Mr. Cooper said.

        Mr. Copper, a construction laborer, and assistant coach Andy Mustacchio, a former captain in the New York City corrections department, pay rent and some travel and food expenses for the team out of their pockets. Other money comes from donations and parents.

        Ryan Shepherd, 13, of Norwood, state and regional Silver Gloves champion in the 75-pound class, is a member, and will compete in a national competition Feb. 2 in Kansas City.

        To make donations to buy a used ring for the Norwood Boxing Club, call Charles Cooper, 561-2878. Donations are tax deductible.


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