Profiles of four rising stars.
Troy Wohosky, president/head coach
Spartan Boxing Gym
When 7-year-old Troy Wohosky moved to Oregon from the tropical Philippines, he saw his breath for the first time. But it was what he didn’t see in his new Medford home that affected him more. “There were not a lot of other Filipinos,” he says, recalling how the move fueled an already burning anger. He got into street fights, dropped out of school, joined a gang at 13 and became a father two years later.
Boxing turned Wohosky’s life around. When his gym closed in 2007, he started training in his driveway with donated equipment. Neighborhood kids saw him working out and clambered to join in. When Wohosky missed qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, he realized his vocation. “I wanted to open a gym and work with youths,” says the now 30-year-old.
He opened Spartan Boxing Gym in a 5,000-square-foot empty building in Medford in 2012. The first year’s rent was free, donated by a father of one of his students. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit license came one year later, paid for with the purse Wohosky won boxing at Seven Feathers Casino.
Today Spartan Boxing serves a diverse group of youths and adults. There is a monthly fee to train at the nonprofit, but Wohosky offers scholarships and outreach to at-risk youth. A big part of that outreach involves transporting kids, often spread throughout rural Jackson County, to and from the gym. “I give the kids bikes or organize rides,” he says.
In the four years since starting Spartan Boxing, Wohosky has served about 300 at-risk youth, some as young as 4. At first, only about 20% to 30% were passing their classes. Today that number is 75%. Wohosky estimates that 20% of adult gym members and 60% of youth have dropped their gang affi liations.
Funding comes from various sources: the Robert and Frances Chaney Family Foundation, the West Family Foundation and the K.E.Y. Gang Project through the Oregon Youth Development Council.
Spartan Boxing faces challenges familiar to all nonprofits: the need for more money, more space and more volunteers. These hurdles are compounded by funders reluctant to donate to a boxing gym. “People always ask, ‘Why boxing?’ says Wohosky, explaining that the sport is good for kids who are angry, depressed or suicidal. “It’s a lifestyle, not a sport. You play basketball but you don’t play boxing.”
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RICKY HERRERA Thursday, 19 January 2017 18:25 Comment Link
Very good I met troy when my mom died 2012 i traveled to oregon from los angeles California in search of a new life until I walked into his boxing gym I sparred 4 rounds and never have i forgot how he became a mentor in my life he helped me when i had no home no money no food no family i might not show up to the gym everyday but im loyal to #SPARTAN BOXING