From the outside looking in, boxing may seem like one of the most individually focused sports out there.
On many levels, this may be true – hand in hand sparring in a rope lined ring up to 12 rounds at the highest level. But anyone well-versed in entertainment would tell you that the team surrounding a fighter is just as important.
Just ask lifelong boxer Danny Olivar. The 40-year-old Lynnfield resident opened his own gym in Middleton in 2020, and one of the first things he set out to instill was a team-first mentality in and out of the ring.
He even implemented the slogan “We are not me” which became part of his journey and a staple in his new gym.
“I always think it’s all about the team,” said Olivar, who has been boxing since he was five. “Although boxing is a very individual sport, I have always believed that everyone around them contributes. It’s almost like raising a child, especially with these young guys. I think it takes a village.”
Olivar’s gym, which he named “Sonny’s Boxing and Fitness” after his eponymous two-year-old son, has it all: a variety of punching bags, gloves and headgear, plenty of other training equipment and, of course, a beautiful full-size ring. The exterior walls of the facility are adorned with tasteful boxing memorabilia, including posters, photographs, trophies and plaques.
Think classic, old-school boxing gym with a modern modern twist.
“This is one of the nicest gyms I’ve ever been in,” said former professional heavyweight Bruce Perry, a Danvers resident who frequents the facility.
More important than looks, however, is the gym’s dedicated staff and overall family atmosphere.
Between the owner, Olivar, and his team that includes his good friend Mark O’Connell, 19-year-old Shea Wilcox (soon to be a pro), Larry Kootz, Gene Beraldi and Joe Lake, there is no shortage of knowledge and expertise within the Middleton training haven .
Building his staff and welcoming individuals to try the sport for the first time, hone their budding craft, or simply get in on a fulfilling – and perhaps exhausting – workout, Olivar set out to create an environment that catered to people of all ages. , origins and aspirations.
“I wanted to give something back to the sport to be honest with you,” Olivar explained. “Everyone wants to be a fighter and I think it’s more than just boxing. I think everyone struggles in some aspect of life and I think boxing is very symbolic of life itself.
“Whether they’re struggling with one thing or another, I think (boxing) is a good outlet for people, and I think if we can give them that half hour or an hour to escape the world by letting out aggression on the gloves or the heavy bag, I think that’s good.”
Whatever your boxing goal is, Sonny’s has an option for you. Whether it’s their adult or youth group classes led by Beraldi, who Olivar says “brings a whole different energy to the gym and it’s like everyone’s caffeinated when they come in,” or individually focused one-on-one training sessions, there’s something for everyone. for everyone — from five years and up.
“Those are the years I started, so I thought no one would lift me up,” joked Olivar. “Although, my son was already tough, but that’s what happens when you grow up in a boxing gym, I guess.”
Olivar also helped train a number of high-level boxers, including an NCAA champion from Notre Dame and a pair of New England Golden Gloves champions. The aforementioned lake has also trained successful professionals throughout its illustrious career and adds another dimension to the gym.
“He actually coached my best friend Dana Rosenblatt, who won the world title,” Olivar said. “He started coming here a few months ago in the mornings and doing his thing; I have the utmost respect for Joe. If anyone can come in here and help me get better at what I do, it’s him. I mean, he coached four world champions. My ego is not big enough; come in and help. He’s obviously been in the sport a lot longer than me and has a huge advantage in the gym.”
Sonny’s is still a relatively new facility, and Olivar plans to continue to do everything he can to make it the best and most enjoyable place to train in the area. Boxing has undoubtedly made a serious comeback in recent years, and Olivar feels that if he can help fuel that growth while helping people achieve their goals, then he’s doing his job.
“I think (boxing) went down when the UFC blew up, but I think people appreciate boxing more now because they realize how hard it is,” Olivar said. “I think everybody wants to be able to defend at the end of the day, but it’s more about training. Studies have shown that you burn 500 calories in half an hour; where else are you going to do that?”
Sonny’s Boxing and Fitness is located at 206S Main Street in Middleton, MA and is open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 8pm. For more information visit sonnysboxingandfitness.com and check them out on Instagram (Sonnysboxingandfitness).
Contact Nick Giannino at NGiannino@Salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickGiannino_SN.