Stepping into the ring

  • Published
  • By Peter Blackburn
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs
Those looking to knock off a few pounds or rev up their fitness routines can check out classes at their base fitness center, such as the boxing class taught by Gregory Leschishin.

Leschishin serves as the 66th Force Support Squadron's school age program assistant, but he is also an Olympic-style boxing coach, and members of the Hanscom Air Force Base community can experience the boxer's workout firsthand through both group and private sessions.

The coach says participants should bring a water bottle, comfortable sneakers, shorts and a towel to class, but they are advised to leave preconceptions about boxing at the door.

"Usually when people hear about boxing, they think about guys with no teeth beating each other up, but that's not what we teach here," Leschishin said. "A lot of people are scared to get hit, but what we do is instruct people how to successfully box or spar with someone their own size and age -- only if they want to."

Not everyone who lifts weights intends to become a professional bodybuilder, Leschishin said.

"Likewise, you don't have to actually get hit to participate in the sport of boxing," he said. "The workout is great."

Leschishin, who is also a certified personal fitness instructor and a USA Boxing Level II official, offers both non-contact and contact sessions.

Leschishin has more than 35 years of boxing experience, and also stays current with boxing across the country. He just represented New England at a junior Olympic boxing tournament in June, and he was selected to attend the junior Olympic national tournament in Alabama in August as a boxing official. This will be his first national tournament.

"It's an honor to support an Olympic program for the military," Leschishin said. "I'm proud to help active-duty service members, as well as civilians, be the best they can be -- mentally, physically and athletically."

The fitness center, where Leschishin teaches, also is home to a newly-donated, Olympic-sized boxing ring. He says this has boosted interest on base in the sport. The ring will be used to practice for a charity boxing event Nov. 11, the first boxing show on base in decades.

"We are seeking potential participants to join my present boxers to get out there and try out what they've been learning, while at the same time putting on a charitable event," Leschishin said. "We're hoping to raise a good amount of money for the families of veterans coming home from Afghanistan. I also want to thank Jerry Turnbow, the fitness center director, for his support in this worthy event."

All classes use USA Boxing-approved equipment, including speed and heavy punching bags. For increased safety, an orientation safety session is required before individuals can be approved to use the equipment.

"Amateur boxing is a very safe contact sport, actually one of the safest out there as long as it's done in a supervised and safe way," he said. "That has always been my philosophy."