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An Unlikely Sanctuary

Westbury Boxing Club keeps kids off the streets and off the couch

Walk down the stairs of The M. Phipps Recreation Center on Post Avenue and it’s like walking into another world. The two large, red white and blue boxing rings in the center of the room command attention, and people wearing gloves in all corners of the room are hitting punching bags. No, this isn’t a scene from Rocky, it’s the Westbury Boxing Club. 

Westbury Boxing is a lot more than your average gym. According to owners Kevin Collins and Gerard Wilson, it’s a haven. Around 50 people walk through the gym’s doors each day and develop not only their muscles, but their character and values.   

 “We run this gym to keep kids out of trouble,” Collins said. “There’s drugs and gangs, and then there’s the other side of it where they’re staying inside sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips.” 

The gym is completely free of charge. Men and women of all ages can use body bags, gloves, and other equipment. Coaches also volunteer their time and expertise with boxers looking to spar and improve their skills. The gym has also trained several amateur boxers. 

The gym is run entirely on donations and recently held a fundraiser to help pay for the cost of equipment, rent and insurance, which can all quickly add up.

“A lot of people from Westbury donate, which I think is great because they’re part of the community and are investing in their community,” Collins said. “Without the people who support us, I don’t know where we’d be.” 

“Everybody comes down here for free,” Wilson says. “We all volunteer our time and nobody makes a penny. We’re taking money out of our own pockets to help pay the bills.” 

Westbury resident Richard Maddox started boxing two years ago at Westbury Boxing and says it’s one of the best on Long Island.

“I came here, started working out and fell in love with the sport,” Maddox said. “The gym has nice equipment, nice coaches, and the free aspect is the biggest advantage.” 

Though it’s changed hands several times due to financial difficulties and legal problems, the gym has been a Westbury staple for over 20 years. 

“The village of Westbury has been great to us and we love it here,” Collins said. “And we’re looking to get better and better.” 


Westbury High School students are teaching younger children from Park Avenue Elementary School valuable life lessons about money and business skills through the High School Heroes program.


In this program, high school students that are taking Renate Johnson’s Junior Achievement class will go into first grade classrooms to teach 45-minute lessons.


“It is a program that gives high school and younger students confidence and teaches them about business and financial literacy,” said Johnson.

The Westbury Historical Society will host Dr. Natalie Naylor, professor emerita at Hofstra University and author of Women in Long Island’s Past: Eminent Ladies and Everyday Lives at their next meeting on March 9. 


Naylor’s presentation will focus on the place of women in Long Island’s history, including several prominent women from Westbury’s past.  


Albertson resident and Kellenberg sophomore Gabby Schreib qualified for the Millrose Games in New York City. Schreib qualified as a member of the Sprint Medley Relay along with Danielle Correia, Bridget McNierney, and Jazmine Fray. 


The Kellenberg relay’s close second place finish in January’s Millrose Trials has moved them closer to defending the title they won in the same relay at last year’s Millrose Games. Schreib and her teammates time is currently second in the United States for girls track and field performances.

Congratulations to Westbury athletes Michael Esposito, Eileen Harris, Brett Harris, and Michael Going, each of whom won awards in Race # 1 of the Jonas Chiropractic Run Nassau Series co-hosted by Nassau County and the Greater Long Island Running Club.


Michael Esposito, age 15, took home the second place award in the 15-19 age group with a time of 23 minutes, 6 seconds.  Eileen Harris, age 42, earned the first place award in the women’s 40-44 age group.  She completed the race with her 45 year old husband, Brett Harris, who was the third place award winner in the men’s 45-49 age group.  Michael Going, age 41, scored third place honors in the 40-44 age group with a time of 20 minutes, 51 seconds.


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