Janell Mellish continues to build her boxing gyms back up after 2020 shutdown
Arena Training Institute in Cheyenne found a new home in September 2021
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Boxing. It’s a sport that is brutal on the surface, but when broken down, the actions performed can hold a much deeper. meaning.
“The power behind a punch is more than just your fist hitting something,” said Arena Training Institute owner and coach Janell Mellish. “The power behind that punch is really something that translates into your mind and into your heart and into your soul.”
Mellish used the sport, as a means to eventually get through one of the darkest moments of her life.
“A big piece of coaching people for me is from going through an incident 15 years ago, where a man ran out in front of me on the interstate in front of me and he was instantly killed,” she said. “And that moment really changed my life and the way that I was able to cope and get through it was I decided I was going to live for him.”
Mellish said a lot of people propose that the man may have been committing suicide, and that if he was, she said she wants to make the world a better place for him.
Fast forward a few years and the Air Force veteran started a women’s boxing training gym under the worldwide brand Pink Gloves. Participation grew at her at her locations in Cheyenne and Laramie. However, COVID delivered a vicious blow and forced Mellish to close the doors of her gyms.
“At the time, I really didn’t know if we were gonna make it,” she said. “Making the decision to close down and out of that gym was really hard on all of us and you know we all kind of just committed to ‘hey let’s walk through this thing together.’’”
Mellish and her most loyal boxers threw a mean counterpunch to the bad hand they were dealt, refusing to let the spirit of the gym die.
“We all still did, when it was safe to do so, work outs outside we all still messaged each other, lifted each other up, had zoom meetings and then we found a temp space with no air conditioning and we all still showed up,” said Arena Training Institute instructor and student Amber Mueller.
Eventually the time was right for the Cheyenne contingent to move out of that temporary space, and under the name Arena Training Institute, Mellish and her Capital City boxers moved into a new home at 507 W. Lincolnway in September 2021.
“Girls here understand you,” said Arena Training Institute student and boxer Kyleah Martinez. “You have a bad day, they’re here. You punch it out on the punching bag and just have fun”
Once 100 strong, participation at Mellish’s gym certainly dropped due to the pandemic. But now, new faces are coming in and Arena Training Institute has about 80 regular participants across both the Cheyenne and Laramie locations.
“I want people to be transformed here and I want there family and friends to see it and I want them to want a part of that too and to really experience what that’s all about,” said Mellish.
The gyms now offers jiu-jitsu and classes for men too. Mellish’s next goal is to get more law enforcement and first responders involved, hoping to help them keep their mental strength in the face of tragedy.
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