Group: St. Cloud Boxing and Wrestling Club.
Origins: According to Scott Kelm, owner and operator of the Downtown Gym in St. Cloud, the Boxing and Wrestling Club began with regular meet-ups in the St. Cloud State University wrestling room in 1983. Seven years later, the group added boxing to the mix, and after appealing an initially rejected application for tax exemption, the group achieved 501(c)3 status in May 1997.
Mission and motivation: In addition to the exercise, Kelm said the motivation for the club is similar to any athletic endeavor: “To play, have fun, to learn.”
“It’s like pop — 7UP, Pepsi. People love choice,” he said. The club provides another option for youths and amateur athletes interested in learning, staying in shape and competing, Kelm said.
“It isn’t so much to teach the talented individuals but the people who come in with no knowledge,” he said, adding that the thrice-weekly workouts teach both mental and physical discipline — to the athletes and the coaches.
Location: Workouts take place from 7-8:30 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at Downtown Gym, 220 Seventh Ave. S, St. Cloud.
Affiliations: The club operates matches and membership under USA Wrestling and USA Boxing, national governing bodies for those respective amateur sports. Kelm said this allows the club to host sanctioned tournaments and secure insurance for participants.
Members: Kelm said the club is open to virtually any interested athletes from the first grade past college age, male and female. Competitions start with 9-year-olds, he said, and all practices have parent supervision.
Membership numbers vary, Kelm said, but the sports remain popular. Close to 30 people showed up for Thursday practice this past week, and at one time, Kelm said he was coaching almost a dozen girls in wrestling.
To participate, Kelm said athletes must pay a membership fee depending on their sport. That yearly fee, $35 for USA Wrestling and $50 for USA Boxing, provides a blanket insurance policy for the athletes, he said.
Community function: “A true volunteer organization, even if there’s no money there, you try to keep the program going,” Kelm said. The club’s budget is healthy, he said, and even if potential athletes are strapped for cash, they are welcome.
“If you have no money and come to us, we will take you in,” he said, adding that the charitable nature of the club extends to its attitudes toward athletics in general.
A recent interview with a Mixed Martial Arts athlete rubbed Kelm the wrong way, he said. While the popularity of MMA is a fine thing in itself, according to Kelm, the highlighted athlete’s language and attitude was a bit sour.
“Violence and trash talk — that’s not sport,” he said. The club looks to promote healthy competition and an open, comfortable atmosphere, and that’s obvious by looking at all the help volunteers provide for the athletes, Kelm said.
“Democracy rules in its truest form in a nonprofit,” he said, adding that if people didn’t pitch in, the club wouldn’t exist.
Upcoming events: The first snowstorm of this winter postponed the club’s first Golden Gloves boxing show, with a Wisconsin group even getting stranded in Hinckley, Kelm said. Those matches will happen in February.
Matches will take place throughout the winter, Kelm said, with the Golden Gloves regional boxing tournament scheduled for April 14 and 15 in Walker.
Funding: The club receives funding from three main sources, Kelm said, with each revenue source split almost evenly. Dues from members and donations account for about two-thirds of the club’s revenue stream. The remaining 33 percent arrives via charitable gambling with pull-tab boxes at Gary’s Tavern in Foley, Space Aliens in Waite Park and Gilman Liquor.
Membership for youth members, classified as participants younger than 17, is $20 per month, and for 17-year-old members and up, the fee is $30. This includes the three instruction periods per week and full access to Downtown Gym, Kelm said.
For information: Call the Downtown Gym at 654-0202.