NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Several non-profits housed inside Military Circle Mall are still looking for new spaces to rent after the city announced the mall would close at the end of this month.
The businesses inside only have two weeks left before the mall closes its doors.
Easy Work Boxing and Fitness is one of those organizations left scrambling to find a new place to set up shop.
It may look like a normal store from the outside, but inside, kids and teens alike are developing a love for boxing.
Easy Work Boxing and Fitness owner Dorsett Barnwell said he had 17 assault charges by the time he was 13.
Boxing, he said, saved his life.
“I know first hand what programs like this can actually do for the community because it did it for me,” Barnwell said.
Teaching discipline and structure, through every jab, cross and hook.
“The kids who understand that, usually grow to be more successful adults,” said assistant coach Mustafa Black-Castle.
Black-Castle has been boxing for 14 years and said when he started coaching, he didn’t realize the impact he would have on kids’ lives.
“The work that we do actually saves lives and keeps kids out of jail,” Black-Castle said.
Barnwell said “it’s so easy for these kids to just find something negative to do.”
But when the mall closes in just a few weeks, these boxers won’t have a place to meet.
Barnwell says several city councilors and the mayor have visited his space since the announced closure of the mall.
“We’ve got so many things that’s going on inside of this one spot that kids and adults are benefitting from,” Barnwell said.
He says he wishes the city would invest in programs that are helping kids, instead of taking their space away.
“Not enough attention is being showed to the kids that are actually being productive citizens,” Barnwell said.
They’re trying to roll with the punches, but it’s tough to find an affordable space near where their athletes live.
They’re hoping the community will step into the ring and help them plan their next move.
“Honestly were in a situation where we are really desperate and we would take any space in the city of Norfolk,” Black-Castle said.
Jamir Germany has been boxing for more than a year now and said he can’t wait to come to practice.
“When you walk in the gym its like its your family now,” Germany said.
Germany has earned a national championship title and said it’s difficult to imagine not being able to walk into Easy Work every day.
“Knowing that we got to leave is kind of hard,” Germany said.
Barnwell and Black-Castle said they hope to continue making a difference in kids’ lives from wherever they land next.
“To see them become successful,” said Black-Castle. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
Barnwell and Black-Castle have a non-profit called Mentality Sports Club, which is the driver behind Easy Work Boxing and Fitness.
If you have any leads on a space for Easy Work Boxing and Fitness, contact Barnwell or Black-Castle. The gym’s contact information is listed on their Facebook page. They’re also accepting donations on their cash app, $mentalitysportsclub.