HOW “A BOXING GYM FOR EVERYONE ” is tightening up Charleston, and beyond

By Brendan Fitzgibbons • Photo By Marc Estrella

Near Sharrott’s Shoreline in Charleston is a boxing gym where trainees are more likely to get encouraged than pummeled.

Opened in 2008, DeMarco’s Boxing Club is owned by head trainer and former professional fighter Nicky DeMarco. The impassioned pugilist, whose last fight was in January 2013, speaks of his gym with a bright-eyed enthusiasm.

“You’re not going to walk in here and get jabbed in the face,” he mentioned. “This gym is for everyone. Our club doesn’t fit the typical fighting gyms stigmas of people coming in and being intimated by guys with broken noses.”

Six days a week, the gym offers hour-long courses that range from Competitive Boxing (for both adults and kids), a kids-only program, and a class dubbed Boxing For Fitness. The latter, a popular choice, is a no-contact circuit in which students participate in the same regimen as a boxer who’s preparing for a fight, including jumping rope, hitting speeds bags, and shadow boxing.

“It’s really all about using boxing as a vehicle for exercise,” DeMarco (seen above) said. “It’s a great workout for everyone.”


The clientele at DeMarco’s Gym fits that egalitarian view on the sport. “We get white- and blue-collar people of every profession: lawyers, doctors, sanitation workers and fathers and sons that take classes together,” he said. “And the gender attendance is split equally, too.”

While DeMarco’s caters to people of every background, they offer competitive boxing courses and personal training sessions for aspiring boxers looking to make it at the professional level. There are five highly skilled trainers on hand, too, including Johnny Turner, who at one point was ranked 5th best “Elite” welterweight fighter in the world.

DeMarco, who used to live on the island but now calls Dyker Heights his home, lights with even greater spark when speaking about the gym’s children’s courses.

“Every day we teach a course that helps students having problems at school,” he said. “They are either being bullied or struggling with self-confidence, and we try to build them up.”

DeMarco mentioned that the gym’s involvement in the development of young men and women makes him also feel especially tied to the Staten Island community, “I started working with these kids when they were 8, 9, 10 years old, and now they are young men and women,” he said. “I take a lot of pride on knowing that I helped groom them in some way.”

The boxing enthusiast is particularly proud of one of the students he has been training since he was eight, Jonathan Castro. The 13-year-old fighter recently won the U.S. Boxing Association’s Junior Olympics regional championship.

“It’s pretty incredible; he’s basically won at the highest level possible,” he mentioned.

The gym itself is a sizeable warehouse space that used to be an old trucking garage. The walls are adorned with old photos of famous fighters, banners, and photos of students, all surrounding a competitive boxing ring.

DeMarco is in the process of constructing a new gym just down the road that will come equipped with showers and other amenities, and was quick to add that he has no plans to leave the neighborhood.

“I’ve built up a great number of relationships with people and businesses in the community, and it’s amazing to see how we really help each other out.”

Demarco’s Boxing Club
4333 Arthur Kill Rd.
718.227.2013 /