Champs Gym celebrate 50 years of business, giving Roanoke youth a fighting chance

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 5:18 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Champs Gym is celebrating a big milestone-- 50 years of giving kids and teens a fighting chance.

It’s a division of the Melrose Athletic Club, Inc., a nonprofit created by the longtime president and director Victor Banks

For the last 50 years in Roanoke, Champs Gym has worked to keep at-risk youth off the streets through boxing and mentorship.

Banks says their athletes don’t rely on just power and skill--- they rely on their minds, discipline, and the family they’ve created at the gym.

”They all show up to put this very ring together and break it down and store it and, and anything that I’ve ever asked them to do. They’re always there. I mean, they love the boxing program, and nobody ever asked for a penny. You know, we’re 100% volunteer,” said president and director Victor Banks.

Athletes like twin brothers Donte and Monte Dunnaville have been coming to the gym since they were 10 years old, becoming ‘champs’ in the ring and in life.

“This gym is like part of and it will always be part of me even when I grow old and become senile. It will still be a part of me,” said Donte Dunnaville.

The gym recently received a proclamation from the City of Roanoke for its 50 years of business and service to the community.

In case you’re interested in donating or helping out at Champs Gym, it’s off Jamison Avenue SE at the old firehouse number six.

You can also visit melroseathleticclub.org to read more about its history and programs.