The Fort Smith Boxing Club was a staple in the sport for parts of four decades before fading away at the turn of the century.
But now, thanks to a familiar face, it’s open once again.
Harold Corley ran the boxing club from 1964 until 1999. When he stepped away, though, is when things started to go downhill. Then he got a call that he wasn’t expecting.
“I never intended to get back in it but some of the kids that that I had coached and tutored all through the years came to me and said they wanted to start the club again and I couldn’t say no,” Corley said.
Terry Clark was one of the most decorated fighters to not only come from the club but this part of the country. It was an obvious choice for Corley to bring back someone who’s resume is as long as Clark’s.
“It means a lot to have the doors open,” Clark said. “It gave me a chance to do something with myself as a kid. I was a two time national junior Olympic champion. I won a few tough man contests and also fought a few pro fights but I just like to give the kids a chance like I had a chance as a kid.”
Now Clark is helping out the area’s youth like Robert Perry. Perry is now in his late 20s and isn’t new to the sport but he knows the importance of having the club open once again.
“Just bring it back to the community and the kids,” Perry said. “I grew up here. I didn’t really have too much to look forward to. I really just want to bring the sport of boxing back to Fort Smith.”
Doug Dye will serve as the club’s president but it’s far more than the fights that has him excited about the future.
“They learn sportsmanship, self-reliance, self-confidence, comradery with these other kids which is a very good experience for them and it lasts throughout their lives,” Dye said.
Perry, like the rest of the community, is excited to have the doors to the club open once again. He’s taking full advantage of the facilities but is also trying to give back to the area’s youth at the same time.
“I’m inspiring them because they come in here and when they watch me get in and out of the ring they think ‘maybe one day I’ll be like him,” Perry said. “One day I’ll have his talent. One day I’m going to get on his level or one day I might go beyond his level’ because my level is not infinite. It can go beyond this. It can go beyond that. There could be the next Floyd Mayweather right here.”
The Fort Smith Boxing Club is located at 1525 May Ave in Fort Smith.
Corley said that the club is run on donations and any age and support is welcome.