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Jeff Kolpack, Published June 14 2012

Boxing club dream comes true for Moorhead man

Moorhead - The quest to find a place to start his boxing club wasn’t leading to any answers. Perhaps it was never going to happen for Alex Rendon.

Everybody wanted too much money to rent their building. Then one day, while sitting in Taco John’s restaurant on Eighth Street in Moorhead, Rendon noticed a sign in the window of a building across Center Avenue.

“So I thought, ‘What the heck, I’m going to call it,’ ” he said.

The owner wanted $3,000 a month. It wasn’t in the budget, perhaps not even close. But Rendon didn’t give up either, telling the owner about his vision and the reason for the gym.

It’s about kids. It’s about reaching out to them. It’s about young adults and giving them a place to relieve stress. It’s about spreading the word of the gospel through Bible studies one night a week.

It’s about taking kids from different backgrounds and races and showing them the team aspect of boxing.

“We all learn responsibility,” said Joe Morones, a 19-year-old boxer from Moorhead.

It wasn’t too long before the owner got back to Rendon. How about $500 a month?

That was the start of the Golden Eagles Boxing Club, a grassroots effort orchestrated by the 39-year-old Rendon.

It’s a labor of love for the most part. Of the $500 a month, most came from his pocket the first few months, he said.

The dues are whatever a kid or parent feels they can contribute. There are now roughly 15 to 25 boxers on a regular basis, so Rendon isn’t on the hook as much anymore.

It’s the second local boxing club to open in the last two years in the metro area, following in the footsteps of the Red River Golden Gloves Boxing Club in Fargo. Success for Rendon isn’t so much in the wins at area tournaments, but in the growth of kids and young adults.

Morones, for instance, has lost 50 pounds and has lessened his chances of needing diabetes treatments. “Bigg Joe,” as he is called, appears to be one of the leaders.

It took him over half a year, but he finally got good enough to enter a tournament. He won by unanimous decision in an event in Grafton, N.D.

He even helped train a few kids despite a small fracture in his foot. With a walking boot, he was still able to use punching bags to keep his hands in shape.

“It’s a lot of discipline,” Morones said. “You come in here and relieve a lot of stress.”

It’s not a pretty place by any means. The previous tenant was an auto parts store, and the former front counter serves as a coaching perch of sorts for Rendon.

But it’s clean. A hand-built boxing ring that is safe enough for sparring is close to being finished. Punching bags hang from the ceiling in the back.

Each boxer pitches in what they can, whether it be to clean up or add something of substance like a flag. Kids from different nationalities are allowed to put up a country flag of their origin.

The only kicker is you are required to get along with everybody.

“I said, ‘If you’re going to come in here, you’re going to have to learn to socialize and get to know each other,’ ” Rendon said. “I’m constantly reminding them that this is a boxing club and we work as a team. This gym offers them a chance to get to know people from different races.”

Each boxer is required to register with USA Boxing, the governing body of the sport. Rendon is there most days after his shift ends as a driver for Magnum Companies trucking.

He moved to Moorhead from Mahnomen, Minn., where he trained with the White Earth Boxing Club. So far, the dream of running his own club is a success one day at a time.

Sitting in Taco John’s that one day last summer helped his persistence pay off. Moorhead public records show the building is owned by Edwin Welle of Fargo.

“It’s a pretty big building and we’re proud of it,” Rendon said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia