By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The city has punched-up the legendary boxing program at a West Philly recreation center.

Boxers sparred in a new ring at the Mitchell Allen boxing program at Shepard Rec Center at 57th Street and Haverford Avenue. The previous equipment was decades old, says coach Damon Allen.

“The canvas was torn,” Allen said. “They were tripping, the ropes weren’t tight.”

But now there’s a new ring with fresh head-gear and speed bags for boxers to use.

untitled8 New Life For Legendary Boxing Program in West Philadelphia

(credit: Mike DeNardo)

“This is just like a gift from heaven,” Allen said.

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Actually, it’s a $40,000 appropriation from the city. Allen’s 25-year-old son, also named Damon, appreciated the boost.

“This gym got a lot of kids out of trouble,” he said. “Kept a lot of kids busy, kept me busy, kept me out of trouble and now I’m a professional boxer.”

He’s getting his start at the boxing program named after his great-grandfather.

Parks and Rec Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell says Mayor Jim Kenney is suggesting a regional all-star tournament where Philly boxers could compete against those from other cities such as New York or Washington, D.C.

“We’d love to think about how we can give the boxers here more recognition,” Lovell said, “both in the region and nationally.”

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