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.

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“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.

(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.

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