At Ocala Boxing Academy, classes are available for children and adults alike, beginners to advanced fighters. And whether you’re interested in boxing for self-defense, self-confidence or physical fitness, the benefits are vast.
Written By Karin Fabry-Cushenbery
Joey and Jessica Dossantos have always had a love of fitness and health. Joey holds a black belt in Taekwondo and has also trained in muay thai and kickboxing. Jessica has a background in physical therapy. Together they have created a culture of acceptance and hard work at Ocala Boxing Academy.
“We want to take the stigma out of boxing,” says Jessica. “Some people may be intimidated to come and workout; they think of boxing as getting punched in the face and getting hurt. But the culture we’ve built is very family oriented, and it’s a lot of fun.”
Plus, boxing is about way more than throwing punches.
“Boxing is great for coordination, teaches us to pay attention to other people’s body language and helps build confidence,” says Jessica. “People who have boxing experience are actually less likely to find themselves in a conflict. Plus, it’s great for cardiovascular health and lean muscle mass.”
At the 8,000-square-foot facility, both group and one-on-one training is available. The Ocala Boxing Academy offers two age groups for kids with 5 to 9 year olds working on agility movements, behaviors, footwork, beginning boxing and workouts in a class setting. The older kids, ages 10 to 15, cover the same material but a bit more aggressively than their younger counterparts.
“The younger kids are a bit like puppies,” smiles Jessica. “They have to grow into their movements and have fun, too. As kids get older, the basic behaviors aren’t quite an issue. Eventually, some will transition to the fight team and become competitive.”
All boxing and MMA programs (which center on grappling, how to strike and kick, and takedowns) offer optional sparring as well. Jessica points out that nobody gets into the ring until they are ready for it.
Adult programs currently offered include the popular fitness boxing, which incorporates light weights, strength training and boxing, plus beginner through advanced boxing classes.
“All of our classes involve conditioning and a cardio-based warm-up,” says Jessica. “And we cover all angles of boxing—mentally and physically.”
Roughly 170 members strong, Jessica and Joey credit their coaches and volunteers for helping their academy grow.
“Coach Rod facilitated and implemented training programs for over 20 years for the U.S. Armed Forces and civilians alike,” says Jessica. “He is a stoic, retired Marine who has helped military recruits train. Coach John has been with us since the very beginning. He volunteered the first year and loves working with the kids—he really sees potential and invests in them. He was a successful hockey player and a professional boxer. Coach Patrick is a professional MMA fighter who specializes in Ju Jitsu. My dad, Coach JC, offers private personal training and boxing opportunities. He was a golden glove back in his day, and he takes boxers under his wing and trains them for competition.”
Ocala Boxing Academy also partners with Endeavor, which sponsors young fighters by getting them off the streets, providing training and allowing them to follow their dreams.
“This is about people being able to better themselves,” says Jessica. “This is like a ministry for us. We come across so many different scenarios with both kids and adults. To see them change from a lack of confidence or physical ability to having that confidence and being healthier is so satisfying.”
Ocala Boxing Academy
1032 SW 1st Ave, Ocala