While Dukes Boxing and Fitness has only been open for a little more than three months, several of the gym’s members are already training to step into the ring as part of a 15-year-old UCSB tradition.
Dukes Boxing and Fitness is currently training boxers for Pi Kappa Alpha’s (PIKE) annual Fight Night, a charity boxing tournament hosted by the fraternity during Spring Quarter. This year is the first time the gym, which opened Nov. 1, has trained people to compete in the event, Dukes Owner and Operator Henry Calles said.
Calles said he is using his experience to train the boxers at Dukes, located on Trigo Road, for Fight Night because it is the only major local boxing tournament.
“I fought in Fight Night a couple of years ago,” Calles said. “It’s the only event in town. I’m going to make these guys into real fighters, not brawlers.”
Approximately 12 members of Dukes Boxing and Fitness are currently training for Fight Night, Calles said. He will probably pick five people to represent the gym at the event.
“I’m hoping to have a real good showing to represent the gym,” Calles said. “As an incentive, whoever I pick to represent Dukes in Fight Night will get a free six month membership.”
In order to prepare for Fight Night, Calles has his boxers on a training regimen that includes two rounds of fights, each of which are each two to three times longer than the rounds at the event. He said he is focusing on the strategies and skills behind boxing, rather than just teaching his students how to fight.
“My boys aren’t going out wailing on each others’ heads,” Calles said. “You’re going to see a lot more technique.”
Junior music major Eric Smith, said he has been training for Fight Night since Fall Quarter. He said the gym is helping him get mentally and physically prepared for the event.
“I’ve been training since November,” Smith said. “You have to be excited. You have to go into it with the right mentality.” Calles said he hopes his boxers will be better prepared for this year’s Fight Night than past participants in the event.
“I get them in shape outside the ring, then they get in there and apply all the things they learned,” said Calles. “My guys will be fighters in there – not like some people that step in there.”
Louie Bousquet, a trainer at Dukes, said he thinks now is best the time for people to start training if they want to be in shape for Fight Night, which is quickly approaching.
“There’s still enough time to start training,” Bousquet said. “If you’re man or woman enough to come out and step into the gauntlet, come on by.”
Ali Mabardi, a UCSB alumni and Dukes Boxing member, said boxing is the best fitness activity that she has found.
“I tried kickboxing and other workouts, but this is the only workout that kept my attention span for more than 10 minutes,” Mabardi said. “Out of all the things I’ve tried, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Calles said the gym currently has about 40 members, including 15 women, and is financed through membership sales that include a one-time fee for personal boxing gloves, hand wraps and an introductory lesson. Dukes offers classes for all levels of fighters, from beginners to those training for competitions, and classes include shadow boxing, stretching, heavy bags, combo work, footwork, speed training and sparring twice a week. Classes vary in attendance, with adult classes attracting both males and females of all ages, including students and UCSB alumni.
Calles said he wanted to open a gym in Isla Vista so he could provide a low-cost, local place for people to train.
“I’ve been trying for several years to open a gym,” Calles said. “I’ve trained in all the gyms downtown, but this is better convenience at better prices. So, I started building a clientele and opened here in Isla Vista.”