Toronto's oldest and most famous boxing gym might be forced to close
Sully's Boxing Gym—Toronto's oldest and most iconic gym for hooks, jabs, and punching bags—is closing next month, and there's a chance it may not re-open.
After operating from the same grungy, smelly gym in Dovercourt Village for the past 12 years, the renowned club where legends from both the boxing and wrestling worlds have trained is being forced to vacate its building at 1024 Dupont Street to find a new home.
"It's heartbreaking," says Danielle Manteiga, daughter of Sully's owner, Joe Manteiga. "It's like a home for everybody that goes there."
Since its inception by Earl "Sully" Sullivan in 1943, North America's longest-running boxing gym has moved multiple times from its historic location at 109 Ossington (now a condo) where legends like Muhammed Ali once trained.
Hoping a couple of my fight friends can help me save a boxing institution in Toronto. Can you help me #savesullys @GeorgeForeman @danawhite @EliasTheodorou @paigevanzant Would appreciate a retweet or any help you give. 🥊https://t.co/hPHApotiL1— Ryan Doyle (@ryandoyleshow) February 27, 2019
This move, however, seems harder than the others. Since the gym's last move from Bloor and Lansdowne to its current location, rent prices around the city have gone up significantly, making news of Sully's recent eviction from the building a painful blow.
In January, Joe received a notice that the building's landlord would not be renewing his lease for another year. They would have to move out within 30 days, said the notice, taking all their equipment with them.
Even though Sully's has received two extensions since then (their initial move-out date was Feb. 15), their final day, March 15, is fast approaching.
"That’s our struggle right now," says Danielle. "Finding a place that’s available and one that’s not astronomically priced."
But the Manteigas aren't kissing the canvas just yet: according to Danielle they've found a potential new home for Sully's that's still relatively close to the community they serve. It will, however, need a lot of renovations to bring it up to gym-level standards.
To help cover the costs of rent, moving, and renos, Sully's has taken to creating a GoFundMe campaign to help raise $30,000 for their move, and they've already raised more than $9,000 over the past 5 days.
"With rising costs of rent and gentrification in its [neighbourhood], the gym is at a crossroads and needs help to get set up in a new location where it could continue to serve it's community as it has for generations," says the GoFundMe.
"Alternatively, the gym will be forced to close its doors forever."
Mayor John Tory even even took it upon himself to visit Sully's last night, and has spoken with the club's property manager today to see if there is an agreement that can be reached between the landlord and the boxing gym.
We'll have to wait to see if Sully's is down for the count or if they can make yet another comeback, Rocky-style.
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