Bare Bones Boxing brings new life to Silver Lane

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Jul. 29, 2011
Alana Royal works out with trainer Humberto Vargas. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Alana Royal works out with trainer Humberto Vargas. Photos by Frances Taylor.

The Silver Lane storefronts that once housed businesses such as Exotic Superpet and Burlington Coat Factory have been dark for several years now. But in the corner of the mall, a boxing gym is bringing new signs of life. Bare Bones Boxing offers cardio -boxing classes for fitness, and has become a place where local boxers come to train.

During the renovations for the gym, owner Stanley Tompkins said residents from the area would stop by to see what was going on. “They were glad to see that something was finally happening here,'' said Tompkins, who co-owns the gym with his wife, Gwendolyn.

The gym will celebrate two years on Aug. 10. “We're up to about 200 members now,'' Tompkins said.The gym offers daily fitness classes where participants work out punching bags and exercising. “You can burn 800 to 100 calories during class,'' Tompkins said. “It will get you into shape.''

In addition to its fitness classes, Bare Bones sponsors two USA Boxing-sanctioned clubs for amateur boxers; one called Sweet Science, and the other Bare Bones. The teams include people who came to the gym for fitness and fell in love with the sport of boxing.
That's how Alana Royal, 21, started boxing. She is one of several women who are now in training with the teams.

“I started out coming here for the cardio classes, and I decided I wanted to learn how to box,'' she said. Royal comes in nearly every day now to work out with Humberto Vargas as her trainer.

“Alana will compete,'' Vargas said. “She could have her license by September.''

In training, “everything is under control. There is always a trainer present when people are in the ring,'' Vargas said. “You learn how to take a punch, and how to react to that. It's intimidating for anyone to step into the ring for the first time. Not that many people ever do it.''

Tompkins said that boxing can be a safe sport. “No one fights without head protection, groin protection, 16 ounce gloves,'' he said. “No one gets hurt – the worst could be a bloody nose.''

Amateur fighters and semi-professionals also work out at the gym.  Antonio Marrero, who has fought professionally, was working out with trainer Angel Gonzales. “I'm working on a comeback,'' Marrero said.

Vanessa Villareal fought her first amateur fight in May of this year. “It was exciting. I was nervous, it was like an adrenalin rush,'' she said. “When you've worked so hard for something, and it happens, it's like a dream.''

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