July 29, 2021

INDAC

Keep Fit & Healthy

Iconic Hollister boxing gym falls victim to shopping center development

4 min read

A major Hollister development is being built with big brand names, but those stores will come at the cost of an iconic, free boxing gym.Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez confirmed the new Hollister shopping center on Prospect Avenue and Park Street will feature a Dutch Bros. Coffee Shop, Ross, TJ Maxx, Ulta, and Panera Bread among other stores.In order for those stores to be built, there needs to be a retaining pond built where the Bulldog Boxing Gym is currently located. The city owns the structure, but has allowed coach Zeke Lopez to use it for free for the past 26 years, training hundreds of kids over the years.”My payment is watching these kids develop into better people, and into good boxers,” Lopez said. “These are low-income kids and families that I’m trying to help.”Some have been lucky enough to turn pro, but others, like Lupe Rodriguez, have found refuge in the ring.”It’s my happy place. That’s what I call it, one of my happy places,” Rodriguez said holding back tears.Lopez said the city attorney called him and told him “the reign of the bulldog boxing gym is over.”Velazquez said they would give the gym 30 days notice, but the building “really should have been condemned a long time ago. It was just one of those things, hey use it while you can.”Velazquez also said the city has been paying $200 a month to keep an outhouse on site. Lopez said you can’t put a dollar amount on the lessons that have been taught in the gym and the impact he’s had.He said dozens have reached out to offer their support.”It makes you realize that everything you’ve done is not a waste of time,” Lopez said. “You’ve got to turn and roll with the punches, I can’t stop. I’ve got too many kids in this community that needs help. That is looking for someone, something to be safe and not have to worry about things. That’s what I have, I had. Hopefully, we can do it again.” San Benito County supervisor Bea Gonzales said she’s working with county leaders to find a new space for the gym.

A major Hollister development is being built with big brand names, but those stores will come at the cost of an iconic, free boxing gym.

Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez confirmed the new Hollister shopping center on Prospect Avenue and Park Street will feature a Dutch Bros. Coffee Shop, Ross, TJ Maxx, Ulta, and Panera Bread among other stores.

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In order for those stores to be built, there needs to be a retaining pond built where the Bulldog Boxing Gym is currently located. The city owns the structure, but has allowed coach Zeke Lopez to use it for free for the past 26 years, training hundreds of kids over the years.

“My payment is watching these kids develop into better people, and into good boxers,” Lopez said. “These are low-income kids and families that I’m trying to help.”

Some have been lucky enough to turn pro, but others, like Lupe Rodriguez, have found refuge in the ring.

“It’s my happy place. That’s what I call it, one of my happy places,” Rodriguez said holding back tears.

Lopez said the city attorney called him and told him “the reign of the bulldog boxing gym is over.”

Velazquez said they would give the gym 30 days notice, but the building “really should have been condemned a long time ago. It was just one of those things, hey use it while you can.”

Velazquez also said the city has been paying $200 a month to keep an outhouse on site. Lopez said you can’t put a dollar amount on the lessons that have been taught in the gym and the impact he’s had.

He said dozens have reached out to offer their support.

“It makes you realize that everything you’ve done is not a waste of time,” Lopez said. “You’ve got to turn and roll with the punches, I can’t stop. I’ve got too many kids in this community that needs help. That is looking for someone, something to be safe and not have to worry about things. That’s what I have, I had. Hopefully, we can do it again.”

San Benito County supervisor Bea Gonzales said she’s working with county leaders to find a new space for the gym.

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