By Ruben Bansie
Knott Street Boxing Club is part of the Matt Dishman community center in N.E. Portland. It’s been around for a long time. Inside you can see trophies and newspaper clippings that go back to the 50’s. It was once a top boxing club in the nation, and produced championship level fighters. Back in the day there could be 70-90 kids at the gym everyday. It has remained a solid community club in a neighborhood that has gone through a lot of changes.
Boxing gyms are often recognized for helping to keep kids out of trouble by giving them a place to go and teaching them the value of discipline and hard work.
Knott Street plays another important role in the community: it brings people from different backgrounds together. Portland has become more expensive, and as a result, less diverse and more divided. At Knott Street, people from all different backgrounds- race, income, age- come together. It’s one of Portland’s few melting pots. You go to Knott Street and spend time with people you might not otherwise know. These kinds of institutions are fundamental in teaching kids to understand prejudice. And inside a boxing gym, the only way you can feel superior to someone else is by working harder than them. None of this would be possible without Stanley Dunn, who acts as the coach and mentor to the boys and girls who train at Knott Street. When I boxed there, I was struck by Stanley’s commitment to the club. He puts his whole heart into it, almost every day. He’s been doing it for over 16 years.
At Knott Street, Stanley teaches the sweet science to anyone who wants to learn. He teaches the kids how to be humble when they win, and how to deal with loss. He inspires them to be fit and take responsibility for their health. He helps them rise to their full competence. He even picks them up if they have no way to get to the gym.
Stanley does all this for no pay. He doesn’t ask for pay. He is truly dedicated to serving the community by always being there for the kids. When Covid hit and training indoors became a risk, he trained the kids at Dawson park. Often a scene of drug addiction and crime, he turned it into a positive environment. The whole neighborhood, the police and ambulances, clapped their hands and honked their horns in support as they passed by.
Knott Street Boxing Club subsists on donations. It needs new equipment and more resources to keep its members involved. It needs funds to be able to put on exhibitions and travel to tournaments; the cheapest way to do this is to purchase a van to transport the boxing ring for set-up at exhibitions and for the team to travel to tournaments. And it needs the financial ability to help the kids who can’t afford the $20 monthly youth memberships.
The dream is to restore competitive greatness to the Knott Street Boxing Club by enabling it to compete. This gives the kids something to work towards. The minimum necessity is to keep the gym going, and provide the necessary equipment for it’s members to train.
There is a lot of awareness being raised right now about race and inequality in America. Donating to a charity or cause to help bring change to these issues is a good thing. I encourage you to research how your donations are being used, and better understand how you are helping. One of the best ways to help is by investing directly in your community. Small places like Knott Street make a big impact on the community. Knott Street is a throwback- there aren’t too many places like it around anymore. Let’s help keep it going and make it accessible to anyone who needs it, regardless of their income.
The easiest way to donate is through the facebook page. Go to: www.facebook.com/knottstboxingclub and click on the “Donate” tab.
Any questions, email Knott Street directly at firstname.lastname@example.org