Manfredo Boxing back for another round in Smithfield

Manfredo Boxing back for another round in Smithfield

Peter Manfredo Sr. is “off the ropes” and back in the ring at his new boxing training facility, Manfredo Boxing Sports Fitness, 55 Douglas Ave., in Smithfield. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)

SMITHFIELD – Jumping into the ring for the 12th round, boxing professional Peter Manfredo will be welcoming the new year with his new boxing training center, Manfredo Boxing Sports Fitness, at 55 Douglas Ave. in Smithfield.

With more than 45 years of experience in and out of the ring, the two-time world kickboxing champion and third-level Taekwondo black belt is known in Rhode Island and nationally for his expertise in training amateur and professional fighters.

He’s trained many athletes, including his son, Peter Manfredo Jr., who is a former International Boxing Organization middleweight champion and runner-up on the reality-style game show “The Contender.”

After a five-year hiatus spent training in his former partner’s gym in Cranston, Manfredo said “it’s time to get off the ropes,” and continue to train fighters in a self-run facility in Smithfield.

“This is 24/7. There is no off-season in boxing. It’s the only sport with no off-season. You can box on Christmas Day. There’s no time off,” Manfredo told The Valley Breeze & Observer.

Located above Rocco’s Pub in the Water View Place plaza, right near the Wenscott Reservoir and the North Providence town line, Manfredo said the space is centrally located in northern Rhode Island for his students’ convenience, and is only 1.5 miles from his North Providence home.

The proximity to his home will allow him to take on personal lessons and clients at their convenience, being able to drive to the gym in minutes.

“This is my new home, and I’ll spend as much time here as possible,” he said.

Manfredo, 62, worked through December to transform the former spin cycle studio into a boxing gym. Mirrors hang on the wall in the main training room, where a raised stage for instructors was removed and replaced with a boxing ring. Chains hang from the ceiling where double-bags and punching bags will hang.

Manfredo, sporting a sweat track suit, said he is about halfway through the construction process. Punching and speed bags line the walls on the floor of the entry room.

On the walls around the front desk are pictures of Manfredo’s past, showcasing boxers he’s trained and others he’s met. Behind the desk cluttered with plaques and framed fight marquees, Manfredo pulled out more pictures of fighters, naming each one and how he knew them.

While learning martial arts at 18 years old, Manfredo found more and more people approaching him to teach them what he knew. He said he began with wrestling in high school, but has always been involved with some sport.

“I’ve been an athlete all my life,” Manfredo said.

In the early 1970s, Manfredo asked his grandfather if he could use the basement of his six-unit apartment building on Federal Hill to teach martial arts. He said 20 students quickly became 30, which subsequently grew to 50.

Manfredo opened his first gym, Manfredo’s Kickboxing, on the corner of Atwells and Manton Avenue in Providence, and that quickly expanded. From there, he moved to his Pawtucket location where he remained for more than 25 years.

Closing his Pawtucket location, Manfredo’s Kickboxing moved to Narragansett to be closer to his home in Charlestown. He ran his training facility in Narragansett for several years, with his fighters driving down from Pawtucket and North Providence to continue training with him.

The Narragansett location closed due to a flood, and Manfredo began training in an all-female gym in Cranston in 2013, though he continued to work with male athletes as well.

The father of four, with his youngest a set of 7-year-old twins, decided that to provide for his family, he needed to get his name back on a gym.

“I’ve done everything, from professional to regional, to amateur and TV. I’ve been to France, England, Toronto and Montreal with fighters. I’ve done everything and been everywhere. I’ve trained top American fighters, professional olympians, boxing, kickboxing champions. People in Rhode Island know my name,” Manfredo said.

Manfredo Boxing Sports Fitness will offer boxing lessons for children and adults, as well as specialized Parkinson’s therapy classes as well. He said he wants to focus on giving his students confidence through building core strength, stability and conditioning.

Current students are already taking classes in the new studio, with children’s classes Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m., adults classes Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m., and Parkinson’s therapy on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m.

“I’m hoping for a home run, but I really want a grand slam,” Manfredo said.

Manfredo currently works with several professional-level boxers, including Shelly “Shelito’s Way” Vincent, and Toka Khan Clary. Manfredo Jr. retired from boxing and is focused on providing for his family, according to Manfredo.

Surgeries on his back, knee and hips prevent him from doing the high kicks of kickboxing, so Manfredo mainly works on boxing hand movements and techniques these days. Working different hand combinations during the Parkinson’s therapy classes improves eye-hand coordination and communication, he said.

He said his main goal for the new gym is to work with youth to help build confidence and self-defense.

Manfredo plans to hold a grand opening ceremony in early January, but has not set a date yet. For information on the opening or to join the gym, call 401-641-6973 or email pmanfredosr@gmail.com.

Manfredo said he is looking for a yoga instructor to hold classes as well, and plans to have a physical therapist join the team.