The history of the new G Force Athletic Club in Charleroi actually dates back around 50 years.
It was then that 15-year-old George Galis started boxing at the original Charleroi Athletic Club, on the third floor of the Charleroi Borough Building.
50 years ago, the native of Monessen has been teaching the art of soft science to young people at the G Force Athletic Club since October. Its location is right on the third floor of the Charleroi district building.
Galis, 65, initially searched for a building in Monessen for the club but was unable to find a suitable one.
“Then I spoke to municipal councilors from Charleroi, and they let us use this space,” he said. “We fixed all the walls, painted them and put in new lighting.”
Boxing and the original Charleroi Athletic Club were important to Galis. In fact, he ran the club when it was located in the old basement of Crest Avenue Elementary School. This building was eventually converted into apartments for the elderly.
While searching for a new location, Galis was promoted in his work with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trade (IUPAT), which required him to relocate to Maryland, where he lived for nearly 20 years old. He retired from that job in September and got back to the process of opening a gymnasium.
“Even before I retired I knew I wanted to open a gym,” Galis said. “I didn’t care if I coached pros or not. I wanted this to be an after-school program for the kids.”
G Force Athletic Club is a non-profit organization that fundraisers and donations have supported financially.
“Until now, mostly donations,” said Galis, adding that a lot of money came from the charitable arm of IUPAT. “They gave me most of the money, but I probably got seven or eight other substantial donations.”
Every child enrolls in American Boxing, which provides insurance in case of injury. It is also necessary that someone participate in a sanctioned fight.
“It was my concept,” Galis said. “That and do a little Bible devotion every day. I want to introduce Jesus to these children.”
Galis said the number of children who come each day varies. There may be from 2 to 25 on another day.
Galis receives help to prepare these potential boxers for the sport. People helping him include George Ross, Mike Opalinski, Mark Schrader, Rueben Brown, and Troy Moore.
“My goal is to get the kids off the streets,” Moore said. “It’s a safe place, a safe haven. You can come here and talk to us if you are having problems with your parents or anyone else. If your parents are having problems with you, they can tell us about it. . “
However, other coaches are not always available, and there are times when Galis is the only instructor.
“Some nights I really run everywhere because boxing requires individual attention,” said Galis. “Little bad habits can be formed quickly. When I have a lot of kids in the gym and I’m the only one, I move around.”
Children between the ages of 8 and 15 from all over the Mon Valley came to the track club.
The club is open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays at 10 a.m. Galis said he could remove Fridays from the schedule as many children enjoy attending sporting events in the high school.
There is no charge for any child who wishes to participate. It’s Galis’s way of paying it forward.
“When I started boxing a long time ago, if they had told me there was a charge, I couldn’t have gone,” said Galis. “I wanted to make sure these kids weren’t being asked to pay fees.”
By the way, Galis was pretty good in the ring as a youth, posting a 43-8 record in amateur fights.
All anyone interested needs to do is go to the facility located at 338 Fallowfield Ave.
Those who come seem to be playing sports and enjoying their time in the gym.
“It’s fun here,” said Kayden Irwin of Charleroi after a little work in the ring. “I love the sport of boxing. I always watch music videos of famous boxers. It just got me interested in doing it.”
As it turns out, the 12-year-old’s favorite boxer is “The Biggest” Muhammad Ali.
Cole Konek, 12, of Monongahela, was just looking for a winter sport to participate in.
“I like it,” he said. “It gives me something to look forward to after the school day.”
Jacie Lipari, 12, from Charleroi, heard about the club from a friend.
“I decided to go down and it was fun,” she said. “It’s fun and it’s a good workout. It’s something to do.”
Galis saw the children come for many different reasons.
“It’s not for everyone,” admitted Galis. “I have kids who come in and treat it more like a social club. I don’t turn them down because maybe they just need a place to go. Most of the kids really want to do it. They work hard. and listen. “
He also admitted that neither of the kids were ready for an amateur fight yet, but some are getting close.
Galis is hoping to eventually expand what is available at the track club.
“I have weights in there, but I need a weightlifting trainer and more weightlifting equipment for the kids who don’t want to box, but stay in a safe space to go after. school, ”he said. “I also have a few retired teachers who have agreed to help if there are children who need tutoring.”
Galis also hopes to someday host a local show featuring local children in the ring. A show he hosted in 1991 at the regional high school in Charleroi featuring professional boxers drew a large crowd.
But the main goal of Galis is quite simple.
“I want to see if we can help these kids stay on track,” said Galis.