Less than two months in and already Gord Apolloni and the Top Glove Boxing Academy are reaping the rewards of their new digs.
"There's 17 new members just in the last month," beamed the long-time Sudbury boxing coach, sitting inside his office at the Kevin Houle Memorial Boxing Auditorium at 1855 Lasalle Boulevard.
"We have mass participation, and then you have a better selection of athletes, which means that we will be able to produce better boxers here, especially when you have them looking up to guys like Bruno Desrochers, Cody Huff, Matt Cooper."
"It's nicer and cleaner, but there's also more accessibility, more parking, more room to do different exercises," Apolloni continued. "We can do one corner with beginners and another corner with advanced. We have more room to do all that, and we have coaches to work on those levels as well."
Yes, Gord Apolloni is pretty darn excited.
As he sees it, the benefits of the move from the former location at the corner of Elm and Regent will be felt by those who he has worked with for some time, and well as eager newcomers to the facility. The timing could not be better for Desrochers, a 20 year-old who is just starting to scratch the surface of his potential in the ring.
"I take it a lot more serious now," confessed Desrochers, just back from his first international experience, a close loss in a recent bout in Ireland. "As I get better, I'm starting to fight tougher opponents. It's not a game anymore. I've got to be focused in the gym, I've got to be focused when I step in the ring."
"I'm feeling comfortable, feeling aggressive, feeling like I am in the zone," Desrochers added. "My fights are closer and closer together, and that focus is starting to feel the same, from one fight to the next."
One of the busiest Top Glove representatives last year, Desrochers boasted a 2017 resume of no less than 27 bouts, a number that he would like to approach or equal in 2018. "That's where I see a lot of the development happening, just because I'm fighting a lot," he said.
By contrast, 14 year-old Jordan Menard is still likely several months from his first official action in the squared circle. Joining Top Glove just a couple of weeks ago, the grade nine student at Ecole Catholique Secondaire du Sacré Coeur is still getting his bearings.
"I really enjoy this sport," said Menard. "I did martial arts before, so I was using my feet a lot. I just decided to use my hands more - plus this gets you in great shape." It's a definite bonus for a young man who also enjoys his time on the basketball court, a pursuit he intends to balance with his new pastime.
In the meantime, he's starting to catch on to the fundamentals that Apolloni and company are drilling home to their young disciples. "The stance surprised me," he admitted. "You need to have your toe touching your heel, aligned, and you need to have a nice right hook, with a twist."
Just the kind of attention to detail that Apolloni hopes to transform into an entire stable of top-end boxers - just as it once was in Sudbury, back in the day.