Photography by Joel Benjamin
When Peter Welch was 9 years old, he had a good old-fashioned fist fight on the streets of Southie like many kids growing up in the 1980’s. Peter got his ass kicked. A beat cop down the Old Colony Housing development – Officer Jack McGill – witnessed the fight and went over to Peter and said, “Kid, you gotta get your ass up the Muni and learn how to box.” Peter’s father promptly brought him up to the “Muni” – now the Pal Gym/Walsh Community Center – to tryout for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Boxing Show. “The first guy I sparred was Tom Flaherty (life long Southie resident and a Boston Firefighter). What a rush! I loved it immediately.”
33 years later, Peter still gets a high from boxing. As owner of Peter Welch’s Boxing Gym, he spends his days at the converted warehouse on Dot. Ave near Andrew Square. The gym offers classes where people can train like a boxer through fighter conditioning. “Fighter Conditioning” is a 50 minutes class for all levels that is action packed. Aspiring fighters also train at Welch’s and kids can learn the fundamentals of boxing at afternoon boxing fitness classes and sparring clinics. Peter is ever-present at the gym and offers tips and has hands-on demonstrations and teaching techniques at the ready.
The scoop on Peter:
- Lifelong Southie resident
- Grew up in the Old Colony Housing Development
- Married to Joanne (Dooley)
- Kids: Joyce (14), Peter (12) and Ella (7)
- Golden Gloves Champion
- Has a 5-0 record as a professional fighter
- Opened Peter Welch’s Gym in 2007
- Peter Welch’s Gym won the Best of Boston award in 2013 for best gym.
- Peter Welch had a cameo in The Departed and shared a scene with Leo.
- Trained Brock Lesnar when he challenged and won the UFC Heavyweight title from Shane Carwin.
- Favorite restaurant: I have many favorites: Lincoln, The Seapoint, Rondo’s, Amhreins, Mirasola’s, Sals, Cranberry, Pats Trattoria, and Landos (Land of Pizza).
- Favorite Southie spot: Hanging out behind the L (L Street Bathhouse/Curley Community Center). It’s got handball, swimming, getting some color, a cold plunge, hot steam, running in the sand and watching the sunset.
Peter’s powerful build does not overshadow his calm and amiable disposition. When he talks about boxing and all its details, his enthusiasm is infectious. His passion for the history of sport is on display in his new addition to the Peter Welch’s Gym. Across the street from the original gym, is a new spot literally plastered with old boxing memorabilia and articles from fight magazines. Mounted on the wall is old RCA television that shows old fight clips and footage. A newly painted mural is front and center depicting all of the greatest fighters of the sport including Southie’s own “Irish” Danny Long. With his spirit and dedication, Peter is hoping ignite a spark in the younger generation of future boxers. “Boxing was a way for me to see the world beyond South Boston. College was never in the cards for me but boxing has opened so many doors for me in my life.” Currently, Peter is recruiting neighborhood kids to tryout for the St. Patrick’s Day Boxing Show on Friday, March 7th at the Pal Gym/Walsh Center. Tryouts are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30pm-5pm and Saturdays from 12pm to 2pm.
Who comes to your Fighter Conditioning Classes?
Many people attend our classes men, women, kids of various ages. I would say that almost 50% of the members are women. There is a healthy mix of new Southie residents and people born and raised here.
Some people might be intimidated to come to Peter Welch’s gym. Why should people give it try?
Thinking about going to a boxing gym and working out can sound intimidating, however from the time you step in the door, our staff couldn’t treat you any nicer. It’s a friendly community center like atmosphere. You’ll get a great workout too.
What can kids learn from the sport of boxing? Besides the obvious, fitness and self defense (empowerment), kids will learn the values of dedication, discipline, respect and working through adversity.
Best fighters to come out of South Boston? Jim Maloney, John Sances (fought under the name Tommy Nee) Honeyboy Finnegan, Tommy Sullivan, Hambone Kelley, “The Fighting Attardos”, Rich Torsney, Tom Conners – fastest KO in Boston Garden History, and of course My trainer and friend “Irish” Danny Long.
Favorite Boxing movie? It’s a short film called Fisticuffs – it’s pure entertainment and real boxing tips and tricks from the old school.
Best life lesson that boxing has taught you?
The best life lesson I’ve learned is humility. Winning is great, however it’s how you get through the loses that teaches you humility. The greatest fighters I have met over the years are the most humble.
Peter Welch is helping South Boston stay strong not only physically but also strengthening our community too. His enthusiasm and dedication to both the sport of boxing and preserving the heart and soul of his hometown is inspiring. We are proud to call him one of our own.
Interested in signing up? Just walk through the front door and you’ll be greeted by a friendly face. You can also check out their website here!