A church is an unusual place to hold a boxing club, but that’s where Leonard Serada is teaching the sport to children and adults.
Serada, a Charleswood resident, is teaching boxing at Sturgeon Creek United Church (207 Thompson Dr.) free of charge on Tuesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Serada said he is hoping to add more dates as his club, Westside Boxing 204, gains more popularity.
Serada, who is retired from working at Air Canada, opened up the boxing club and non-profit organization in June last year. His 14-year-old son Eli Serada had been practising martial arts since the age of five, and wanted to do pursue a contact sport. Since Serada was already a boxing coach, he started training his son and, in the end, decided to open up his own club.
"Boxing runs in my family," Serada said, adding his father and uncle had previously boxed in the Army. "My uncle turned pro, and my dad didn’t."
Holding a boxing class in the basement of a church was not Serada’s initial plan. He said he had talked to several venues before meeting with Sturgeon Creek United Church’s minister, Deborah Lynn Murray.
"(She) wanted to bring more people into the church and was looking to find an alternative way to do it, to look outside the box — no pun intended," Serada said with a laugh.
"I’m part of a church that tries to make itself available to the community as much as possible," Murray said.
Each session is divided up into a half-hour of exercise and cardio for students to limber up, followed by a half-hour of learning new skills.
"We try to teach one skill (per class) and perfect that before moving on," Serada said.
Classes are divided into different skill levels.
"I attended a couple of sessions. I’d like to go more often — it’s a very good workout," Murray said.
Those interested in joining Westside Boxing 204 can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 204-417-0786. Serada said the club will have its own website in the near future.
"I’m waiting for my son to learn (how to do that) in school," Serada said.
Serada said he and the other coaches at Westside Boxing 204 don’t charge people to attend the club because they love the sport too much.
"We want the sport to grow and to give people an opportunity to try it," Serada said. "If we have fundraisers or ask for donations, it’s to buy new equipment. Right now, I don’t want to pull a wage. None of my coaches want to pull a wage. It’s just the love of the sport."