Bear Den Boxing finds new home on Frederick Avenue

May 21—One of St. Joseph's flagship boxing gyms located on U.S. Highway 59 will soon call a well-known Frederick Avenue location its new home in the coming weeks.

Bear Den Boxing LLC, currently located at 8004 U.S. Highway 59 in St. Joseph, will be moving up a weight class from 1,200 square feet to more than 3,000 square feet at its new location at 2300 Frederick Ave., behind the former Great American Pizza building.

In the eyes of majority owner, trainer and popular local boxing vet Byron Polley, the new centralized location opens up a world of opportunity for the gym to accommodate its growing membership base and upgrade its training capabilities, among other enhancements.

"We just got to a point where we got so full that we have to do it," said Polley, who won 30 professional fights over the course of his 20-year pro career. "Amateur is really taking over, man ... we're going to put on a lot of amateur fights here."

The gym will open its doors at the new location on June 11, fresh with new workout equipment, turf and a much-needed expanded parking lot.

From humble beginnings training a dozen fighters out of his garage to the early days of the gym operating without a ring and little equipment, Bear Den Boxing has seen tremendous growth in just two years to get it to this point.

"We had three bags in the middle of the building. That's it. No ring, Nothing. Just pads on the wall. Word gets out. We start getting more people and more people start coming in," he said.

The gym now trains between 50 and 60 people on average and is affiliated with some of the top organizations like USA Boxing and Kansas City Golden Gloves.

Polley's mission is about far more than just developing people into talented boxers; he relishes the opportunity to mentor and provide an outlet for those struggling in life who want direction, especially youth.

"It ain't about making money in this game here. We're actually helping people stay off the streets," he said. "I get to live for these kids and get to help them and who knows, we might have the next world champion here. You never know."

Polley, along with business partner and top trainer Colby Courter, have their sights set on growing Bear Den Boxing to appeal to much more than just prospective boxers.

"People call all the time saying, 'I want to train, I want to get in great shape, but I don't want to fight,'" Polley said. "You don't have to fight ... We're actually trying to compete with, like, Planet Fitness. We've got big plans, big dreams."

Polley and Courter aren't pushing ahead alone. Pro boxer Marcus Garza, Terrance Porter and Polley's son Dakota provide an infusion of high-level training on everything from proper footwork and angles to overall boxing technique.

"We both had good careers. We're stablemates and together we just, we have this dream one punch at a time," Polley said.