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Photo by Anthony Guidice/QNS
Photo by Anthony Guidice/QNS
Mathew Gonzalez training at International Boxing & Fitness gym in Ridgewood.

A local boxing gym that helped a Ridgewood native turn pro will celebrate its grand re-opening this weekend after a recent expansion that nearly tripled its size.

International Boxing & Fitness club will be offering free open gym classes, free youth boxing classes and a chance to meet six professional boxers at the Jan. 6 event.

Located at 1712 Weirfield St., the club was able to come to an agreement with the landlord of the shuttered $1-2-3 Store next door and transform the space into a 10,000-square-foot training facility, said owner Jenny Badillo.

The key to the club’s recent success is its youth program, which Badillo claimed is now the largest in New York City.

“Kids never used to be in boxing gyms,” Badillo said. “We started working with children and realized that in order for them to be really good they have to start somewhere.”

Badillo believes in boxing as a tool to teach the youth responsibilities, she said. The youth program at IBF has 80 students, 20 of whom are fighting as amateurs through USA Boxing. With the gym’s expansion, the training ground has even more resources at its disposal.

A second boxing ring has been brought into the facility, and there are full men’s and women’s locker rooms for the first time. New bag-work and jump-rope areas have also been created, as well as a section of artificial grass turf for doing plyometric and running exercises. The gym was only closed for about a week during the renovations, Badillo said.

IBF has also been effecting positive change in the local community. Its after-school program provides exercise and tutoring for 25 to 30 kids, and the gym is partially staffed by local youth from the Work, Learn, Grow Employment Program, Badillo said.

“We use boxing as a metaphor for children challenging themselves,” Badillo said. “A small percent actually compete. The rest use it to overcome things and build character, and I think it’s really essential.”

The grand re-opening events will be held from noon to 5 p.m. this Saturday, and Badillo said the first class at noon will be taught by the visiting professionals who will be sharing their stories and signing autographs.

Ridgewood’s own Mathew Gonzalez, who trains other boxers at IBF and has improved his professional record to 2-0, will be in attendance. His first fight in New York as a pro will be on Jan. 20 at the Barclay’s center.

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