FLORENCE — When Randy Robles came home to Florence, it was with the goal of starting a boxing gym for local youth, just like his father did more than 45 years ago.
After 18 months of looking for space, Robles and his wife, Julie, have finally found their gym in Coolidge.
“I’ve caught a little flak, ‘How can you go to Coolidge?’ How can I not, if I’m going to continue?” Randy asked. “We got to do what’s best for us, too. I mean, I can’t have Robles Boxing in this room,” he said sitting in a corner office of the Florence Reminder.
The building at 640 N. Arizona Blvd., near Coolidge High School, is about 3,000 square feet — “small for what we do, but we can make it work,” Robles said.
They’re tentatively planning a grand opening for July 25 with pro fighters, music, dancing and giveaways. Julie said it will be a gym for ages 6 and up, offering classes in boxing and kick boxing; fitness boot camps; and Zumba classes. Fitness trainers will offer group training and personal training.
Before town facilities closed, Robles Boxing & Fitness operated out of the Florence Community Center. Julie said in that context, people assumed it was mostly a youth program, “but we do a lot for adults as well,” she said. “We’re a fitness gym, so we reach all ages.” Randy added he’s already heard from several people who’ve said, “Now that you have a gym, we want to join.”
Of course, their amateur boxing team will also train there. The team already has several out-of-town kids, including two from Eloy. They had to shelve their program for the pandemic just as they were celebrating three Golden Gloves champs – Garret Raney, Jay Kloos and Conner Goade. Luis Gonzalez and Nevaeh Rodriguez, both of Coolidge, were runners-up.
The Robleses said they’re grateful for their time at the community center, “but that’s not what we came to do and we outgrew it,” Randy said. “It’s like learning to play football in this room.” You can learn a few things, but you can’t actually play the game, he said. Their own gym will give their boxers an actual ring to train in.
The Robleses tried for 18 months to find a suitable affordable building in Florence, but “nothing works in this town for us,” Randy said. “… I would’ve loved to have had the gym here; that’s what we came here to do. But it doesn’t work.” He said he hopes all his Florence boxers will stay with the program with the help of carpooling or the bus, and he’s also looking for a van.
“The process of opening a business in Coolidge is 20 times easier than trying to open a business in Florence,” Robles said. “Coolidge was more receptive to us. ‘We don’t need you to do anything. If the building is what you want, you’re good to go. What can we do to help you?’”