OLD ORCHARD BEACH — “The Sweet Science” is returning to Old Orchard Beach for another round.

After nearly a year’s hiatus, the OOB Recreation Department is bringing back its boxing program in April for any want-to-be pugilists in the southern Maine area.

The two-a-week sessions, which will be held from 5-7 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays at the rec offices beside Loranger Middle School, had been a staple of the recreation department’s offerings thanks to David Greenwood, a professional trainer and Maine State Athletic Commission who lives in Old Orchard Beach and runs the training.

But after finding himself too busy, and attendance to the sessions at a lull, Greenwood and Recreation Director Jason Webber decided to put the program on hold in the spring of last year.

However, after receiving several inquiries asking if the boxing sessions would ever be back, Webber said he decided to give Greenwood a call to see if he’d be interested in starting the program up again.

“There was quite a few people who have mentioned, ”˜Hey, when are we going to have the boxing program back?’” Webber said. “So I talked to Dave and said ”˜Let’s try another round of it,’ and we’ve gotten quite a good response.”

Webber said the sessions were completely non-contact, featuring three-minute rotational sessions working on stations including the heavy bag, speed bag and shadow boxing, as well as mitt work inside an improvised ring with Greenwood.

“This is not geared to be violent,” Webber said, adding that one of Greenwood’s main rules is that if you get caught fighting outside the program you’re no longer welcome. “This is geared to get kids out and be active.”

Greenwood, who has been involved with the sport since the age of 12 and ran a similar program when he lived in Haverhill, Mass., said he’s glad to be able to share his lifetime of experience in the sport to those just starting out.

“Especially as a kid it helped me out a lot, and hopefully I can do the same for some of these kids,” he said. “It teaches you discipline and a lot of respect. The shape that you have to be in, you can’t be smoking or anything like that; it’s a sport if you’re really involved in takes seven days a week.

“You can play football, you can play basketball ”“ you can’t play boxing. It’s a sport that you have to be dedicated to. It’s almost addicting ”“ if you get in there once you’re addicted to the sport.”

While boxing isn’t an activity usually offered by recreation departments, Webber said having a willing and ready resource like Greenwood allowed him to go in that direction.

“We have a professional trainer that knows the techniques, can keep it safe and it’s not just a fly-by-night thing,” Webber said. “A lot of people would pay a lot of money to be able to be trained by Dave, and a lot of people do. To have that resource in Old Orchard Beach is tremendous.”

Webber, who participates in the program himself, said the program is open to anyone over the age of 10, but that it was mostly targeted at youths, especially those who don’t necessarily like participating in the “team sports atmosphere.”

“Some kids are not your typical student-athlete that wants to play on a team,” Webber said. “This allows you to be an individual. It’s up to you how far you want to push yourself; you’re not relying on teammates to push you. I think the way Dave does it pushes you to be the best you can.

“But I think it’s great for adults, too, because you have that flexibility, it’s not like you have to be here every time. You get one heck of a workout and you learn a little bit.”

The individualized aspect of boxing is what drew Mike Diaz, a sophomore at Old Orchard Beach High School, to the first session on Monday night. Having played a number of sports in the past, including football, basketball and baseball, Diaz, whose grandfather, father and brothers have all been involved in the sport, said he “likes the adrenaline rush” you get from putting the gloves on.

“It’s a great workout. It gets you in shape and gets you stronger,” Diaz said. “You don’t have to worry about anyone else besides yourself. With a team, it’s not always you lose because of you, but with boxing you always lose because of you.”

Though the sessions, which will cost $35 a month for both residents and nonresidents, are designed as non-contact workouts, Greenwood said he’d also be scheduling sparring sessions at the Portland Boxing Club for anyone that he feels is ready to step into the ring with an opponent.

But for those who just want to put in a good sweat, Greenwood said the door was open.

“Anybody’s welcome, you don’t have to be a fighter,” he said. “If you want to come in and work and listen and respect what we’re doing, then it’s a great workout.”

— Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, Ext. 323.



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