Bemidji Boxing Club changes locations, seeks donations
Bemidji Boxing Club owners Joe and Carrie Lorenzi aren’t hanging up their boxing gloves just yet.
BEMIDJI — Bemidji Boxing Club owners Joe and Carrie Lorenzi aren’t hanging up their boxing gloves just yet.
Despite financial struggles resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, both have their sights set on continuing to offer competitive boxing and cardio classes for everyone ages six and older.
And as of Jan. 31, they will do so in a completely different building.
Currently located along Paul Bunyan Drive, their new location at 3481 Laurel Drive near Bemidji Bowl will help them save some money and gain some space.
“We’ll be cutting our monthly rent from $2,200 to $1,750,” Joe detailed. “In terms of space, we’re currently at a little under 2,000 square feet and looking at 3,000 square feet at the new space. Utilities will also be cheaper.”
The current location opened in January 2020 and only operated a couple of months before COVID completely shut down the building in March, per Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order.
Though the doors remained closed to customers for 10 months between 2020 and 2021, the bills kept coming in.
“Our rent for our space, equipment loans and other expenses did not stop,” Joe said. “With no end to our lockdown in sight, we were holding on as long as we could before having to close our doors for good.”
Joe and Carrie opted out of conducting virtual classes like other gyms were doing, and needing to address nearly $13,000 of debt, they reached out to the community through their first GoFundMe fundraiser, “Fighting for Hope,” that raised $2,970.
“We had a good grip with some community groups, and we were lucky to have their support as well,” Carrie said.
Joe credited the Bemidji Police Department, Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and Heroes Rise Coffee for helping to fund the Club throughout the COVID craziness.
“Without the support of those businesses and other clubs, we wouldn’t be here,” he added.
Admittedly, Joe has a hard time asking for help. However, even more people wanted to donate to support their transition to a new building and offset their previous debt.
Hence, a second GoFundMe, “Keep Hope Alive,” was created. As of Thursday, Jan. 13, $2,575 had been raised of their $15,000 goal.
With more financial backing, Joe and Carrie are excited to welcome people to the new building. It will include an added changing area, a separated front desk for check-in and within a month or two, 24-hour access.
Partners in life and business
Joe currently instructs classes Monday through Thursday evenings in addition to his responsibilities as a Bemidji policeman and school resource officer at Bemidji High School.
Describing the boxing club as more than a full-time commitment, Joe was happy to enlist Carrie’s help for administrative duties including running their Facebook page and website, contacting volunteer coaches and managing memberships.
Carrie also works remotely for Essentia Health, during which she’s home with their three children Nora, Luca and Veda.
“It’s a little crazy,” Carrie admitted. “We basically work opposite hours, so I don’t get to the gym as much when I do more of the behind-the-scenes work remotely.”
Their oldest daughter Nora, 7, takes boxing classes from her dad, making it easier whenever Carrie chooses to work on location.
Having previously owned Lorenzi’s Boxing in Duluth before moving to Bemidji in 2019, Joe and Carrie knew they were destined to be business partners in addition to husband and wife.
When he started boxing at 15 years old, Joe went on to compete in more than 70 amateur boxing matches over five years and traveled extensively to compete in nine professional matches after that.
Upon meeting each other in 2007, the managers of the gym for which Joe was training, formerly Twin Ports Boxing, stepped down presenting an opportunity for Joe to become manager.
Since then, the Lorenzi’s have embraced the learning curve that has come with navigating a boxing business.
The year ahead
Now with the whole family in tow, the Lorenzi’s look ahead to pursue the mission they formed years ago.
Open to people of all experience levels and backgrounds, the cardio boxing and competitive boxing classes offer more than the physical benefits that come from the calisthenics, core workouts and strength training each class provides.
“Individually, (the boxers) are building confidence, but are also helping their teammates through things,” Joe said. “They also aim to believe in themselves, lose weight and just try to piece together a healthy lifestyle.”
Joe’s early competitive boxing days influenced him to want to return the favor and in doing so, encourage youth and adults alike to don their headgear and gloves at least once.
“Their first time competing in the ring, their life changes. They’re not the same person anymore,” he added.
To address affordability, Joe and Carrie both serve on the Bemidji Youth Boxing Foundation board that has worked to waive the $45 monthly youth fee along with registration fees for weekly competitions should it be deemed necessary.
“The Foundation is a life-changer for kids. We have a policy where we don’t turn kids away if they can’t afford the fee,” Joe said.
The Lorenzi’s even admitted to paying out of pocket sometimes, affirming their belief that nobody should be denied entry to the ring.
Moving forward in 2022, both hope to see memberships grow as well as their coaching staff, a struggle that comes with being a new business.
“When we were phasing back to being open with limited capacity, we lost some of our members and regained some others,” Carrie said. “I hope to see increased membership and add to our wonderful team.”
In the face of recent difficulties, Joe is optimistic to keep the doors open and lights on.
“With continued community support, I’m excited to meet new people coming through the door. I’m a people person,” Joe said. “The days get pretty long, but at the end of a long day, it rejuvenates me to give back to these people and that’s what my purpose is.”