Sports & Recreation

Best Boxing Gym 

Marquette Recreation Center

Cory Spinks works out here regularly, and his trainer-manager Kevin Cunningham spends his time only on pros. So why does the Marquette Rec Center have such a big rep? Veteran trainer Joe Dunlap, his newer coaching protégé Danny McGinnist, and a collection of hard-working young men and boys who continue to win a lot of fights. While other kids splash in the Marquette pool during an August heat wave, Dunlap's crew, ranging in age from ten to fifteen, jogs up to Tower Grove Park and back, about four miles, then reports to the stifling-hot attic gym. Dunlap gives a few softly spoken directives, and the warm-up exercises and three-minute rotations start rolling. He's hard of hearing and looks every bit his 70-plus years. He helped train Spinks and has stood ringside at pro matches, but the most important fight in his world on a Monday afternoon at Marquette is the sparring bout between two ten-year-olds. One is getting pushed around the ring, and Dunlap asks why he doesn't have his hands up. Just like in the movies, aspiring fighters have to prove themselves to the trainers. Zach Smith, a fifteen-year-old from Eureka, says he wanted to prepare for his high school wrestling season by spending the summer at the best boxing gym in the city. First he had to interview with Dunlap and McGinnist, a USA Boxing referee who began volunteering at Marquette a year ago. Smith isn't sure why they accepted him, but he knows this much: "They don't like quitters. If you're gonna quit, you might as well not even come."

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