The Jack Costello Boxing Club is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1996 by Tim Costello and his family in honor of his late father.
“After he passed, we figured what the heck,” said owner Tim Costello. “We actually grew up across the street right in this neighborhood and wanted to give back. This a organization heavily involved in the community that is all about helping the community.”
On average the gym, located at 4900 Longshore Ave., caters to around 30 fighters – ranging from nine to 30-years-old – every night.
“We don’t have employees,” said Costello. “We have all volunteers. This not a money maker. It actually costs us money. However, we have six trainers on staff, some of whom are Philadelphia police officers.”
Jeff Nance is a volunteer trainer and a Philadelphia police officer. He trains around 15 fighters, including his two sons Jeff Jr. and Kelvin.
“I love boxing and I always wanted to train,” said Nance. “I wanted to train to help people. Being a Philadelphia police officer, I like to take people off the street who are less fortunate and teach them something they can do that’s positive.”
Both of Nance’s sons are looking to become professional boxers in October. They have trained at Costello’s gym alongside their father.
“The gym has a great impact and it keeps a lot of the kids off the street,” said Kelvin Nance. “You will see every type of person in the gym – kids, adults, even females that come here to train and get fit.”
Amayir Caperis is a 15-year-old student trained by Jeff Nance. Nance emphasizes not only the importance of the jab to Caperis but discipline as well.
“I want to turn professional but once you hit a certain age your career is over,” said Caperis. “I put it my work now. Once I’m 35, I want to get in the health field and use the skills that Coach Nance has taught me.”
The gym requests that members pay $10 a month in dues. These dues go towards new equipment and whatever else the gym may need.
“We would never kick anyone out for not having dues,” said Costello. “We are strictly an old school boxing club, something you would see in a Rocky movie.”
Donations, dues and a fundraiser held once-a-year help finance the organization, whose mission is to get kids off the street and doing something positive with their time.
“Our main goal is to give these kids direction,” said Costello. “Some of them come from broken homes. Some of them really can’t afford the $10 in dues, and the money is never an issue with me. I’m a very blessed individual. There are people that believe in what we are doing and we have been here almost 18 years.”
Young Kings is an affiliate program of the nonprofit organization Voice of Salvation that benefits from using the Jack Costello Boxing Club. Young Kings also aims to help at-risk youth channel their frustrations in a healthy way.
“It’s a boxing program that teaches character-building, teamwork and discipline,” said Young Kings executive director Kevaun Green, whose father, Kevin Green, acts as a trainer at Costello.
“When Kevin came to us it was a no-brainer,” said Costello. “He was more than happy to come. It helps our guys to have people to spar with.”
The Young Kings Program is hoping to eventually have its own gym to host events and accept more participants.
“The program has really seen some youth take the principles we have taught them and make a name for themselves,” said Green. “We won the championship of Northeast, which has led us to pick up some sponsors.”
Emess Management is one such sponsor that has helped provide headgear, gloves and, potentially down the line, a new ring for Young Kings.
Philadelphia boxing continues to be strong at the youth level due to organizations such as Costello’s and the Young Kings.
“Tim tries to help everyone out no matter who you are,” said Nance. “I like that, and that is what this organization is about to motivate people to better themselves. As the kids improve their boxing it makes them want to do positive things.
– Text, images and video by Jake Cleary