Tory pushes for iconic boxing gym facing eviction to go another round
Tony Morrison, head trainer of Sully's Boxing Gym, (left) and Mayor John Tory are seen. (Instagram / @sullysboxinggym)
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, February 27, 2019 5:58PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 27, 2019 6:04PM EST
Mayor John Tory is pushing for a long-standing Toronto boxing gym to go another round.
Sully’s Boxing Gym, located on Dupont Street near Dovercourt Road, received a notice on Jan. 14 that their lease was not being renewed, according to a GoFundMe page. The gym was initially told to be out of the building by the end of February but was recently granted an extension to March 15.
After visiting the gym, Tory told reporters Sully’s “isn’t just another gym.”
“I went to the gym last night and I met the people who happened to be there when I arrived at around 7:30 p.m. and I heard their side of the story as to them being asked to move too quickly, in my view,” he said. “They were given a very short period of time to move and I did make contact this morning with the property manager and they are going to be in touch with the landlord, who I said I will speak to directly and as a very first starting point, I’ve asked them for more time so that if they have to move in the end they are given a reasonable amount of time so they can continue with their program.”
“They have helped a number of kids over the years.”
The gym was founded in 1943 and has hosted several boxing legends, such as Muhammad Ali, Lennox Lewis and George Chuvalo.
When the founder, Earl “Sully” Sullivan, died in 1999 he left the not-for-profit gym to Joe Manteiga, the GoFundMe page said. Over the last 10 years, Manteiga’s family has struggled to keep the gym operating.
“Even with a full-time job and a growing family to support, Joe made time to keep the gym and Sully’s legacy alive,” the GoFundMe page said. “In doing so, he created a space in his community known to local youth as a safe hang out offering a refuge from street gangs.”
The gym’s manager Danielle Manteiga said many kids use the facility as a safe space to socialize.
“There’s many stories of kids coming off the streets and staying here and just keeping away from trouble that they were in before,” she said.
Tory said the gym’s survival is vital for the city.
“I’m hopeful, I’m always an optimist about these things and if they are given months then some of the things that they’ve had some differences on they might be able to sort out and stay there in the longer-term basis but we’ll take this one step at a time,” he said.
“It’s a place where a lot of kids have over many years had a place to go and a place to be given the proper kind of encouragement and some very positive activities and that’s why I stepped in as mayor.”
Danielle Manteiga said the staff wants the gym to stay in their current neighbourhood but has explored other options, noting finding a new space that is affordable has been difficult.