When anyone in the Charleston area makes an inquiry about boxing, they inevitably hear the name of Al “Hollywood” Meggett.
That’s what happened when 11-year-old C.J. Pinckney decided he was interested in the sport. That’s what happened when 12-year-old Taylor Coulter decided boxing might be fun. Same goes for 18-year-old Sasha Reeves, College of Charleston sophomore Cyrus “Miami” Brachis or any of the 10 or so boxing enthusiasts who showed up on a recent afternoon at the Charleston Boxing Club, which is in an old fire station at 1099 King St.
“I just thought it would be a cool sport,” said Coulter, an honor student at Buist Academy who also plays basketball.
Pinckney, an honor student at Memminger Elementary School, said he wanted to join a club. His uncle did some investigating and joined the Charleston Boxing Club.
Reeves, who had been involved in cheerleading and dance, was looking for a new activity.
“I thought I’d be good at it. I thought boxing would be something I could do for a long time. I’ve been running out of sports since I turned 18,” she said. “I enjoy the discipline of it. It’s very rewarding. And it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Meggett, who turns 82 in February, has been the face of Charleston boxing for more than 30 years. The former professional boxer, manager and trainer moved his family here in 1978 with the vision of opening a boxing gym.
For years, Meggett ran the Charleston Police Athletic League boxing program. It’s no longer a PAL program, so Meggett and his son, Allah, who is the executive director, are trying to find financial support for his nonprofit Charleston Boxing Club.
Meggett’s dream is for the area’s auto dealers to back the club.
The gym is open 3:30-7 p.m. Monday-Friday. Boxers of all ages drift into the second-floor gym, which includes heavy bags, speed bags and a boxing ring. Protective headgear, kidney cups and gloves hang from one wall. After getting dressed for their workout, most grab jump ropes and begin to loosen up.
Meggett holds court from a chair near a window on the front side of the building, rising to watch and offer advice to some of the younger boxers as they spar.
Parents bring their kids to Meggett hoping the discipline they learn will translate outside the walls of the gym. All of his young boxers are honor students, Meggett said. They are polite and work hard.
“All of these youngsters start with the basics,” Meggett said. “I teach them to exercise, how to eat properly. You will see them walk over to that ring, stick their foot in and feel the cushion. They fantasize about boxing.”