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End of boxing program concerns Wilmington residents

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WILMINGTON -- The closing of a popular boxing program has some Wilmington residents concerned. It's been a part of the community for decades. After more than 30 years, the city ended the Sherridale Morgan competitive boxing program. Some people who live near the Tenth Street gym said the program will be missed. The Sherridale Boxing and Fitness Center on Tenth Street is well known in the surrounding community, particularly for its competitive boxing program. Williston Middle School Teacher Edith Hill said, "It's been a program that's been here for years." That is, until three weeks ago when the city decided to shut the program down. Deputy Director of Community Services Gary Shell said, "We felt it was becoming a drain on our resources. Our coach and fitness director was out of town for up to 75 days a year." The program involved transporting boxers out of town to tournaments. Shell said that cost $15,000 a year in gasoline alone. Residents worry that ending the program will take a more severe toll on the surrounding community. Hill said, "I think it's not going to give the boys anything to do. It's probably going to make them be in the street more. And they need something that's going to give them disciple. I think it's a loss. A great loss not to have that program again." The program didn't disappear entirely. The Sherridale Morgan facility still trains young boxers, but only for fitness and not competition. Shell says competitive boxing is still an option. The 23rd Psalm Boxing Academy on Third Street hopes to pick up where the Sherridale Morgan program left off. It opened in February, and so far has taken on ten of the 80-plus boxers who trained at Sherridale. Deryll McCaskill is the coach and vice president of the newest boxing academy. He says he plans to take it to another level. McCaskill said, "Ieally we want to be the premiere boxing gym in the country -- or at least the east coast." McCaskill added that he hopes to move his program to a larger facility in the 10th street neighborhood, closer to the Sherridale facility.

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