HELENA — The thud of a heavy bag, the ring of a bell, commands barked from beyond the sparring ring’s grasp are all sounds heard at the Iron House Boxing Academy. It’s a boxing gym that gives at-risk youth a positive outlet and the skills needed to face tough problems.
Prior to March 2019, the gym wouldn’t qualify as a gym. Owner and coach Thomas Beck’s boxers trained in a dimly-lit garage attached to his north-valley home. “We started off with one set of gloves, a heavy bag, and a set of mitts,” said Beck.
Over time, the garage was retrofitted with other equipment to create an environment that was conducive to training, but its spatial limitations held the gym back.
When the calendar flipped to March, the gym opened up its warehouse door to welcome its boxers to the new iteration of the Iron House Boxing Academy. With more space to work, boxers were excited to begin training in the new facility, which wouldn’t have been completed without a chance encounter by a fighter’s mom.
“I brag about my daughter a lot and I show videos of her boxing and I’m really proud of her,” said Amy Chartier, whose daughter Kaylee trains at Iron House. “I was just talking to a couple of my customers who were in from out of town and they immediately jumped on board and wanted to be a big part of the boxing gym.”
There’s no question the gym helps kids hone their skills inside the ring, but it helps boxers craft special bonds outside it, as well.
“My coach is like a father to me,” said Kaylee Chartier. “He’s one of the really big reasons that it makes me feel safe here.”