St. Johns Boxing was formed by a group of friends and boxers who were suddenly without a gym during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lisa Titan, the owner/operator was a long-time boxer at the Sweet Science Boxing Gym in the historic Kenton neighborhood in North Portland. SSB was in a physical space that had been used to train amateur and professional boxers for decades. The space was a boxing gym long before Kenton became hip.
In recent years, that space morphed into an inclusive gym space where folks of all ages, fitness levels, boxing experience levels and walks of life came together with a few central, shared values:
SSB was a special place because it had a sense of community. Some folks had lots of prior boxing experience, others showed up and were taught how to wrap their hands on day one. Everybody was encouraged and the environment was positive. There was a strictly enforced (but never explicitly stated) “No Asshole” policy. Some boxers sparred and sparred hard. Others showed up simply trying to lose weight or get in shape. They all showed up because the gym environment was totally unique, positive and inclusive.
When SSB shut its doors in August of 2020 (due in large part to the pandemic) Lisa and her fellow boxers were left without a home. But they still had community. Lisa, Dan, Kyle, Danny, Jen and many others didn’t know what to do about the world but they had to keep boxing. They started working out outside, three times a week, at the James John elementary school. This park workout was the origin of St. Johns boxing. Rain or shine, when the world didn’t make sense, at least they could hit stuff (and sometimes each other). Slowly, more and more folks from SSB started to trickle in. Old friends and workout partners were re-united. The gym had no physical space but the community was alive and well.
In the summer of 2021, enough of the community had come together that Lisa decided it was time to start a new gym. It was time to find a place to train indoors and also welcome new members into the gym.
Various trainers at St. Johns boxing have different styles and strengths. But a typical workout might include shadowboxing, jumping rope, mitt work, heavy bag/speed bag work, defense drills, footwork drills, plyometrics, technique drills or sparring (not mandatory).