ATLAS — A former professional boxer is using his experience in the ring to introduce others to the sport at the Coal Region Sports Complex, 558 W. Saylor St.

Locust Gap native Frank Kane Jr. has been instructing boxing classes since January for people of all ages and skill levels in a side room of the former Fred Alexander Construction building, which is being converted into a recreational facility by Coal Region Sports Inc.

Kane, a USA Boxing Level 1 licensed coach, holds three separate classes on Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m. for ages 9 through 13; 6:15 p.m. for 14 through 17; and 7:30 p.m for adults. Participants may come to any class, regardless of age, if necessary.

Kane said the classes are designed to teach self-defense and basic boxing skills while providing a head-to-toe workout that strengthens the core, and upper and lower body. Boxing, he said, serves as a supplemental workout for an athlete, while also noting that participants who never played sports also enjoy it.

“You don’t have to come here and get hit at all, if you don’t want to,” he said in addressing those uncertain about joining a class. “Right now, it’s more of a workout class consisting of basic boxing skills.”

He said a few adults have interest in eventually taking part in their first amateur fight under Coal Region Sports.

During a recent class involving the youngest would-be boxers, Kane and his father, Frank Sr., moved about the room assisting more than a dozen children with basic stances and bag punches. An alarm sounded every few minutes, which alerted participants that it was time to move to a different station, which include a double-end striking bag, speedball and heavy bag.

“I tell them to pretend the bag is their opponent and, if the bag is swinging, use their imagination to work around that bag,” the younger Kane said. “As they are doing that I come around to correct them or show them different things.”

The class also included a warmup and a light abdomen workout with a basketball and medicine ball.

Coal Region Sports offers pay per class for $10; and monthly prices of once a week for $40 or two to three times a week for $60.

Ring experience

Growing up in Locust Gap, Kane was accustomed to being around punching bags. His father, an experienced cornerman, always had boxing equipment in his garage, and his two brothers also dabbled in the sport.

After graduating from Mount Carmel Area High School in 1996, Kane enlisted in the U.S. Army. After serving his country, he became employed as a truck driver and it was around that time when he noticed a sign for Olanich Gym in Pottsville, which eventually led him to professional boxer and kickboxer Peter Olanich.

“He was the real deal. He was the best guy in the world,” Kane said of Olanich. “Ever since then I have been into (boxing).”

After training for a few months he debuted in his first amateur fight. He soon won the 1999 state novice heavyweight Golden Gloves championship for boxers who have less than 10 fights under their belts.

He turned pro and won several bouts. He soon realized, though, that the commitment level needed to continue as a professional boxer was no longer reasonable.

“A lot of good fighters are either really wealthy or they come from nothing and are in the gym seven days a week,” he said. “I was getting married at that point and working a full-time job that included driving 12 to 14 hours a day to Reading. When my daughter (Alexis) came, that was it for me.”

He married the former Deb Dallabrida. The couple have two children, 14-year-old Alexis and 9-year-old Frank P.

Articles of incorporation filed

Articles of incorporation were filed on May 8 with the Department of State for the purpose of obtaining a certificate of incorporation for Coal Region Sports Inc. In June, its founders, Ken Pizzoli, Tom Letcavage, Chris McGinley and Dennis McGinley Sr., purchased the former construction complex from Raymond Kraynak with intentions of opening a sports facility for area residents.

The group is in the midst of transforming the 4-acre property into a full-fledged sports complex. Immediate plans are to lay down turf that will cover half of the former warehouse, which will be used for indoor batting cages and 3-versus-3 soccer games, among other things.

The exterior of the complex includes parking, an area once used for volleyball and a permanent pavilion-type structure large enough for groups of up to 400 people. The outside facilities are already available for rent for events, including graduation and birthday parties and showers.

In August, more than 400 people attended the “Rock the Complex” benefit for Steve Anoia, a 1997 graduate of Mount Carmel Area High School who sufferes from ALS, at the site.

It’s about the kids

Kane said the response to holding boxing classes at Coal Region Sports has been positive and he looks forward to the progress of the facility and what it will do for the children of the community.

“The whole meaning behind Coal Region Sports is the kids,” he said. “It’s about the opportunity for the kids and the owners of the complex stepping up big time to provide the opportunity for myself and the community.”

Coal Region Sports recently announced that it will hold a free bat demo day with Schuylkill Valley sporting goods on Feb. 24. Times will be announced for different groups. A company representative will be available for any coaches who want to discuss products at team discounts through Schuylkill Valley.

For more information visit Coal Region Sports on Facebook.

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