Best Boxing Gym - 2004
Panda Athletic Club
We're going on potential here, but at the age of only a couple months, the Panda Athletic Club stands to quickly ascend the ranks of St. Louis' many hovel-like pugilist haunts for one big reason: Steve Smith, the fedora-crowned don-and-king of backyard boxing. Along with two other licensed boxing coaches, Smith's a co-founder of the Panda (so named because it's housed in the former Panda Paint factory on the south side), where a mere $15 per month allows members all the group classes, individual training time and gut punches they can, well, stomach. So far the folks flocking in have included first-time fighters, open-class fighters who defected from other gyms, even a couple of mothers who showed up with their sixteen-year-old sons in tow. The Panda's cinematically desolate innards -- the "ring" floor is made of industrial carpet -- only enhance the facility's down-and-dirty ambiance.