Boxing club on the ropes

December 27, 2018

STERLING – He’s down, but don’t count him out yet.

Al Silva, who’s been teaching young people to box for more than 50 years, has lost his new, short-lived space in the old Franz Manufacturing building on West Third Street, and now is looking for a new spot for his kids.

Silva, an icon in the amateur boxing world, has 18 students at the moment, ranging in age from 8 to the late 20s, he said. Many are from underprivileged backgrounds, and for them this club has been a lifeline.

The former Jon Russell Boxing Club was in the basement of the Rock Falls American Legion for 20 years.

Silva bought the club in November 2013 and renamed it the Al Silva Boxing Club, and about 3 months ago, when the Legion needed its space, he moved it to the former Muddy Paws spot in the old Franz/Wayne-Dalton Corp. building, now known as The Warehouse, at 301 W. Third St.

Owner Colby Snyder agreed to let the club pay just a portion of its utility bill as rent, and Silva was in the process of cleaning up and remodeling the space, but Snyder recently sold the building and the new owner wants rent and more in utilities than the club can afford, Silva said. He has to be out by Monday.

Silva never has charged his athletes a fee to join the nonprofit club, and he doesn’t want to start now.

That’s good news, and bad.

Because the club’s focus is on boxing, and not fundraising, all Silva can afford to pay for a new space is about $100 a month.

Because it’s a nonprofit, all donations are tax-deductible.

A couple of weeks ago, Silva created a GoFundMe account for anyone who wants to help him find, and, if needed, rent a new space. The goal is $2,400; as of Wednesday, he’d raised only $275.

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