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Sports >  Area sports

Anonymous donations boost Spokane Boxing after burglary of downtown gym

UPDATED: Tue., May 26, 2020

Punching bags at Spokane Boxing have absorbed few blows since the downtown gym’s temporary, coronavirus-induced closure.

Jump ropes haven’t rapid-fire clacked against the concrete and the voice of owner and coach Rick Welliver’s hasn’t bellowed through the facility as he yells direction.

That changes Wednesday when Spokane Boxing begins to open its doors, a result of Spokane County’s Phase 2 reopening.

Since the gym’s closure in March, Welliver has often taken to social media to keep his members involved – some competitive, some amateur and many solely for cardio fitness – and motivated with a series of videos and quotes.

“I miss being a coach” was among his Facebook sentiments, each post generating dozens of comments from members itching to get back in the ring.

He’ll be a coach again this week, but not after a bout of misfortune.

Spokane Boxing was burglarized soon after its closure, losing more than a dozen sets of boxing gloves and other miscellaneous equipment.

Welliver received a morning call in March from the Downtown Spokane Ambassadors – a group that provides supplemental security to the city – and was alerted that the front door was open, and someone may have broken into the building.

Those thoughts were confirmed when Welliver walked inside and discovered that every locker was busted open and several items were missing.

“It’s the state of affairs in our country. People are desperate,” said Welliver, who subsequently called the police.

“We have a homeless population in our town, many with mental illnesses, and you combine that with COVID-19 pandemic – it’s not good.

“I certainty don’t condone the behavior, but I am sympathetic to their situations.”

There have been no arrests in connection to the crime.

Welliver said the burglary started when one or multiple people broke into another part of the building before punching out the drywall to get into Spokane Boxing’s back closet, gaining entry into the gym.

A hammer from inside the building is believed to have been used to bust open the 16 lockers, destroying the wooden panels on the triple-tier piece.

Nothing of significant value was in the lockers, mostly gym clothes and shoes, likely leading to the theft of the next-closest thing – used boxing gloves and small equipment.

Oddly, the most irreplaceable and valuable things in the facility, including vintage and autographed gloves, framed photos, art and other memorabilia, weren’t touched.

“You can tell that they were working fast, like a smash-and-grab sort of thing,” Welliver said.

Welliver alerted his sizable Facebook following about the burglary, which struck the ire of several Spokane Boxing loyalists and friends.

Good Samaritans stepped up, though, helping ease the losses.

Around the time of the burglary, Welliver used his social media platform to help drum up business for one of his favorite breakfast joints in town, Hogan’s Diner on the South Hill, as it offered carryout options.

Welliver would help get a few people together – a socially distanced breakfast tailgate, he’d call it – and he and his friends would order the breakfast and eat outside.

Two weeks later, Welliver got a call from friend and Hogan’s owner Sam Magnuson, informing him that a big, heavy box had been shipped to the restaurant addressed to Welliver.

It was an anonymous donation – the return address was torn from the package – from someone who apparently heard the news of Spokane Boxing losing much of its gear.

Inside the box were a dozen pairs of new Title boxing gloves, each with individual plastic wrapping. Welliver estimated the gift to be worth around $500.

A separate gift of jump ropes from another donor followed.

“It’s awesome,” Welliver said of the donations. “People are looking to help the youth, and I like that.”

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