Over the last ten years, millions of punches have been thrown under Drummond Street, thanks to the impressive Ringtone Boxing Gym. Through an unassuming doorway, down a flight of stairs – with the words ‘Follow Your Dreams’ painted vertically along them – the gym’s high-energy, high-intensity training environment hits straight away.
Owner Ben Day shouts witty one-liners at the 6pm ladies class, frantically doing sit-ups. On the sidelines, the mixed class – mainly guys – chat, stretch and limber up for their turn.
It’s all a bit daunting at first – very Rocky Balboa – a ring, huge punching bags, countless posters billing Ben’s professional fights and his belts from the International Masters and Southern Area Championship (both of which he won in first round knock-outs).
Alongside these are photos of Ben with boxing legends George Foreman, Anthony Joshua and Floyd Mayweather, and tons of motivational quotes: ‘Growth is in the pain,’ ‘Never give up,’ ‘Walls are put up not to keep people out but to see who has the will to knock them down’ … It’s enough to give anyone the eye of the tiger.
That said, it’s very homely, people are chilled and welcoming: Ben’s partner Nerice works on reception, as does Paulie the resident parrot, who gets stroked by tanked men wearing handwraps, and squawks encouragement at the wavering sit-up crew.
At 7pm it’s our turn. The tanked guy with the handwraps is Gabriel, our coach and two-time Italian Champion. After running around in a circle, interval training begins with burpees, skipping, push-ups, squats and more burpees, before we start boxing the air, then boxing the bags. It soon transpires that we’re all amateurs (some better than others): the work-out is nicely accessible, we’re pushed gently, urged to go further, but never stretched too far, judged or pressured.
When we catch ourselves wavering, we look up and read more of those quotes – ‘Bless the struggle’ and ‘Where attention goes energy flows’ – before getting back to beating that bag to a pulp. Gabriel is kind but firm, tweaking each of our techniques until the whole group – ranging from twenty to forty year olds – feels a tiny bit closer to Muhammad Ali. There is a real sense of camaraderie and achievement as we stretch it out in child’s pose at the end.
As people head home, it’s high-fives all around and bear hugs from Ben. He’s warm, energetic and crazy, in the good way: “you’ve got to be a bit mad to come here, ” he says endearingly, a few minutes before he punches a bag with a razor-sharp jab, in a stance that resembled a hummingbird sucking nectar from a flower.
Back up the staircase, sweaty but invigorated, we re-read the ‘Follow your dreams’ steps. Though my dreams still aren’t squared in a boxing ring, I reckon that if they were, this is the place to be. For now, I sure know where to go in Euston for bulging biceps, rock-hard abs and motivational parrots.
Main shot: PR