By Megan Vaneck
Special to the Herald
“Whose stuff is all this, man? Pick it up. Don’t just leave it on the ground.”
Many Benicians may not know there’s a Global Boxing Organization championship boxer right in our own backyard who’s dedicated himself to teaching the values and basics of boxing to eager little ears. Ryan “Rhino” Bourland instills discipline, commitment, confidence and hard work in his young students by expertly utilizing their desire to make him proud, and modeling what he ultimately wants to see in each one of them. You can see the way they admire and respect him like an older brother, each one enthusiastically showing off their form and skill as he walks by, showering them with equal amounts of praise and correction. If you’re looking to sign your kids up for a traditional sport outside of the same old tired football, baseball, basketball or soccer, you’ll want to check out Team Rhino Boxing at Pro-Faction Martial Arts & Fitness, a hidden gem tucked away in the Industrial Park.
The boxing students fill up an entire back-section of the gym set up with 10 punching bags and padded poles, with a regulation 20′ x 20′ ring located right beside them. Kids release their pent-up energy as they hit the pads, spar with the coach as well as each other inside the ring, run laps in front of or around the gym, and line up for wall sits, crunches, and push-ups. Throughout the class, they gaze at their coach nonstop, eagerly following his every instruction. He actually makes controlling a room of eight to 10 kids look easy as they playfully and excitedly compete to gain his praise.
Mike Warren, owner of the popular Bay Area BBQ restaurant Back Forty, has nothing but compliments for the boxing class his 12-year-old daughter, Angelica, decided to enroll in a little over a year ago.
“We have no idea where she got the idea from, but she has a ton more self-confidence now, and she’s less shy than she was before,” Warren said. “She looks up to Ryan so much. He has a big, strong, tough-guy persona, but underneath all that he’s a really kind person and knows how to approach them, he commands their respect.”
After class, Angelica smiled big as she proudly gave her statement for this article, encouraging any shy or hesitant kids to just enroll in her class, stating “He starts you out easy and works you up. Now I even spar with the boys!”
Team Rhino Boxing is totally family friendly, offering a range of classes for kids and adults alike. In fact, one of the students in the kids’ boxing class has a father who is enrolled in the class for adults. They are both passionate about the sport and come to work out together multiple times a week. In addition, many of the kids and their parents attend the various local amateur fights organized by the gym’s owner, Geoff Quares, as well as the professional fights their coach headlines a few times a year. Says Mike Warren, “The kids here look up to Ryan so much. If I had in my mind one boxing class to sign my daughter up for, this would be it.”
Team Rhino Boxing, is located at 4876 E. 2nd St. For more information, call 750-1644.