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Beyond Community: Sergio, Reggie &Overthrow Boxing Club

Fighting to Make a Difference

The Home of Underground Boxing in NYC

Sometimes, the exterior of a building hides its true purpose. When you step inside, you’re transported to a different world. This is not the case with Overthrow Boxing Club.

Should you find yourself wandering down Bleecker Street in New York, one of the historically bohemian centers of the city, your eye may be drawn to the emphatically decorated number 9 building, festooned as it is with street art stickers, bright red neon lights, and TVs.

Overthrow is what you would get if you mixed a passion for boxing with a strong dose of social conscience, a community focus, and a dash of counterculture.

Formerly the headquarters for the Yippies, an activist organization in the ’60s, Overthrow’s building retains the same sense of edginess, branded with the text “The Home of Underground Boxing in NYC”.

Indeed, even the image of the store on Maps contains a cheeky counterculture message for Messrs. Brin and Page at Google HQ.

Overthrow was founded on the belief that boxing and exercise can conquer many of life’s ills. It’s a noble goal, and one which is also backed up by the extensive community work the gym undertakes.

It not only provides a place for amateur boxers to hone their craft, but also devotes a significant amount of time and resources to make the world a better place.

The Community Thread

There’s a strong community thread running through the club’s programming. Along with subsidized classes for those who are battling Parkinson’s disease, Overthrow runs donation classes benefiting Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, who work to retain and expand citizen rights and equality in the US.

They also offer weekly defense classes for the trans community in New York, helping a marginalized group of people feel slightly more secure.

Peace in a Violent Sport

Born and raised in the historical New York neighborhood of Bowery, the area where Overthrow is located, Sergio Chicon is a coach at the club and relishes the challenge and restorative effect of boxing.

New York’s reputation as a tough city is well earned, and Chicon works with young people to give them a focus and remove them from the many gangs that occupy the streets.

“Boxing changed my life. I found peace in a violent sport. It instilled discipline and exercised my mind and body at levels I never had experienced with any sport or recreation. I love that it is an individual sport that requires so much of you,” he says on the club’s website.

Finding a passion can undoubtedly change the course of people’s lives – whether it’s art, music, or in this case, boxing. Through their community of artists, activists, bikers, runners, boxers, entrepreneurs, musicians, dancers, athletes, and more, Overthrow is providing an outlet for the people of Bowery.

The Community Fridge

Along with Chicon, Overthrow boasts a host of coaches from different backgrounds and upbringings. One of them is Reggie Roberts, who helps maintain the club’s innovative community fridge scheme.

Serving as another way of giving back to their community by looking after the poorest in their area, there are currently seven fridges spaced out around the Bowery district.

Pitched as the first plant-based fridges in the city, the concept is relatively simple and has started popping up around the globe. Residents and those who are worst off in the area are free to help themselves to the produce that is placed inside the fridges, providing a vital lifeline and a small act of kindness for those who are down on their luck.

Donations from the community are used to fill the fridges, which are marked with the club’s distinctive branding.

With the plant-based produce inside, the club has found a way to help their local community and bring people together while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact of the scheme.

What Are You Fighting For?

Overthrow is undoubtedly a crucial organization to their neighborhood, and a stark reminder that when social conscience is combined with entrepreneurial spirit, something wonderful happens.

Mandela once said that sport has the power to change the world. And nowhere is this proved more correct than at this small venue in the heart of the sprawling city of New York.

As the club say to all their new recruits: What are you fighting for?