Boxing gym, youth center to be named for Officer Dia

Alexandra Mester, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
·3 min read

Apr. 15—A youth boxing club that has been without a home for a year will soon get one in West Toledo.

New Generation Boxing Club will set up shop at a small shopping center in the 5000 block of Douglas Road, just north of West Laskey and Tremainsville roads, that has been vacant for several years.

Younes "Tony" Dia, father of slain Toledo police Officer Anthony Dia, recently bought the property specifically for the club. He is offering the space formerly occupied by a convenience store to the boxing program and will not charge rent.

In a news conference Thursday morning, Mr. Dia said he learned of the club's troubles in October and connected with coaches Lamar Wright, Jr., and Ron Greer, Jr.

The program used to operate out of the Glass City Boxing Gym on Suder Avenue, but that gym closed when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the city of Toledo, which owns the property, subsequently determined the building was not safe to reopen.

"I promised Lamar that one way or another, I was going to get a gym open for him," Mr. Dia said.

Mr. Dia said that after phone calls to the city went unreturned, he worked out a deal with friends who previously owned the property to buy it for $265,000 with his personal funds. The club, which has been working out in other smaller locations temporarily, is eager to get back to normal operations.

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"We've been out here for the last month cleaning it out, taking out the shelves and coolers and stuff," Mr. Greer said.

Mr. Dia wants the gym to open in about 60 days, if possible. Mr. Wright said the club will likely start using the space as soon as it's able while continuing to improve it.

"Even though it's a lot of work to get done, I think once the roof gets fixed and the power is on, we'll move in," he said.

Mr. Dia plans to turn the two smaller units in the building, which previously held a bar and a beauty salon, into some form of youth learning and activity center.

"The entire center is going to be free," he said.

He plans to name the facility after his son, who was fatally in the line of duty July 4 last year while responding to a call about an intoxicated man at the Home Depot on Alexis Road.

Mr. Greer said the location, adjacent to Wernert Elementary School and in easy range of Whitmer High School, is great. It's also in a more visible location overall than was the Suder Avenue space.

New Generation now has about 10 youth in its program, which has been restricted because of the pandemic and lack of space. But Mr. Greer noted having more than a gym available will draw more youth to the program and help keep them out of gangs and off the streets with safe and positive activities.

"You get kids that come in the gym and they never even fight," he said. "They come on the daily just to work out and have something to do."

Mr. Dia is looking for help to renovate the space. Anyone wishing to donate funds, items, or labor should contact him or the nonprofit Officer Anthony Dia Foundation through Facebook, he said.

A city spokesman was not available for comment.

First Published April 15, 2021, 1:52pm