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Sweatbox grows Columbus boxing community

September 28, 2018

Some boxing gyms can be found in barns. Others in people’s basements or garages. But for the past nine months, James Hespen of Columbus has been working out weekly inside a storage locker, Sweatbox Boxing Gym.

“It’s small and it’s good,” Hespen said about the gym. “It’s much better for me. I prefer it anytime, as they (other gyms) have a lot of people spending more time looking at you then the workout, you feel free (here). This is a free environment, free to be yourself.”

Former pro-fighter Nick Schleich started the gym back in May 2016 with the goal of growing the boxing community in Columbus. In the last year, Schleich said gym attendance has doubled.

To help improve their workout capabilities, Sweatbox moved locations in the summer of 2017, increasing their available space by three times. The gym moved from Unit 70 of CB Storage at 1176 3rd ave in Columbus to Unit 8.

Sweatbox hosts between 20 and 30 workout sessions a week, Schleich said. All classes are free, except Schleich asks for a $10 donation for one on one sessions which he surprises. These workouts can be coordinated with Schleich via the gym’s Facebook page for all those interested in using the boxing gym to get in shape.

“Boxing workout is totally different than any other kind of work out. Boxing’s probably one of the best conditioning you can do,” Schleich said. “It builds discipline, determination, dedication, drive in younger adults and young kids too. If you want to be good at it, you have to put in hard work for it, so it kind of builds a hard work mentality in people.”

There’s work out courses include ones solely from woman, teenagers and youth groups from out of county. Schleich said 20 people use the gym on a regular basis and that the space can ideally host 12 people working out at any one time. On one occasion, Schleich said he had a class as big as 27 people, with 21 kids and six adults at the gym.

Schleich said his dream is to build a 40 ft. by 40 ft. steel building on his property to house the gym and a boxing ring. He said this is a long term plan, 2 to 3 years down the road.

“That’s where the money in the future will be going, towards that,” Schleich said about gym donations and the idea.

Schleich said he’s currently working on a boxing event tentatively scheduled for Dec. 2. This event would potentially feature up to 50 amateur boxers from all over Nebraska to duke it out in one on one matches.

Schleich said the goal of the event would be to promote the sport and to help give people the chance to get a fight underneath their belt. He is currently looking for a venue in Columbus to host it. More information about the event will be posted on the gym’s Facebook page once the details are more set in stone.

Hespen is a regular at the gym. He said he comes to the gym for the one on one personal trainer attention he gets from Schleich. His goal is to increase his stamina from doing push ups, crunches, sprints, treadmill running and other workouts at the gym.

“He encourages you, he pushes you to go a little farther,” Hespen said about Schleich.“I just like working out. It’s not my best friend, but it makes me feel better.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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