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Students lace up their gloves with Valley Forge Boxing Club
May 20, 2019
The Parma City School District is known for unique programs that stimulate the mind and body of students. One of the most unique throughout the district, and in the nation, is the Valley Forge Boxing Club.
According to one of the advisers, Tim Vojta, the Valley Forge Boxing Club is the only high school boxing club in Ohio, and only one of a few in the entire nation directly affiliated with a high school.
After being a part of the community for numerous years, the club moved to Valley Forge High School, becoming affiliated with the school district in 2002. Open to students from throughout the PCSD, the club promotes the sport of boxing to students in a safe and responsible manner.
“When it’s done right, it’s safe, and you have to do it right,” Vojta explained. “You have to supervise. You can’t mismatch kids and you have to stick to the protocols for safety, equipment and that kind of stuff...Nobody has gotten hurt, or knocked out, nothing crazy like that. So we run a pretty safe gym.”
According to the other adviser of the group, Paul Spooner from Normandy High School, members of the Boxing Club meet at least three days a week from October to May.
Students in the club work a variety of stations, including jumping rope, weight training, working the punching bags and mitts and even sparring. Besides the physical gains realized, Vojta and Spooner teach students other life lessons.
“It teaches you what it truly means to be an adult,” Vojta expressed. “If it was just all guys, what it means to be a man. Is it walking into a room and beating someone up smaller than you? It’s helping teach somebody and helping explain stuff to somebody...I love seeing these older kids come in and explain and become mini teachers themselves.”
The group is definitely not made up of just young men from throughout the PCSD. Female students and even adults regularly practice with the club. Some of the participants are involved with the club year round, while others stop in when not playing on other interscholastic teams, like football or wrestling. In addition, some PCSD alumni stop by the club to get a work out in, and stay active in the sport.
“It’s just a really good and fun way to train your mind,” Olivia Lam, a sophomore from Valley Forge, explained. “It’s just a different, physical sport compared to any other sport.”
“It’s a great thinking sport,” Brian Saydeh, a Valley Forge junior, explained. “It’s a way for someone to push their limits. The feeling you get when you get into the ring, it is just different.”
“It’s just a fun, all around thing,” said Dan Myers, a 2014 graduate of Valley Forge. “It’s one of the best ways to keep your weight down. I think that’s always a good thing because it’s working every aspect of your body. Other than that, I just fell in love with boxing at a young age.”
Besides just training, some members of the club actually get into the ring with opponents from the Cleveland Area Golden Gloves, a local amateur boxing organization. However, Vojta stresses that students who choose to fight in these amateur matches are only paired with opponents within 18 months of age and two to three pounds difference.
For Saydeh, he is looking forward to his second amateur fight with the Golden Gloves in May. After fighting in March 2018, Saydeh knows what to look forward to.
“In my first fight, I had some nerves,” Saydeh admits. “What’s scary is not getting ready for it. I’d rather push and get ready for it, and not get scared, then go out there and win the fight.”
For Vojta, the Valley Forge Boxing Club is definitely a welcoming place where students and adults can learn the hard way about who they are.
“We don’t deal with issues of animosity in here, people hating each other,” Vojta said. “We don’t have grudges. Everybody is cool and everybody is stripped down to their base level. They aren’t putting on a show or an act. This is the real deal. It’s fun and it’s nice to work with these guys.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Valley Forge sophomore Oliva Lam works the punching bag as part of her training routine. Photos courtesy of Marc Kirby.