Local legend helps bring new boxing gym to Cranston


Cranston’s newest gym will certainly pack a punch.

Striking Beauties, in unit No. 4 on 1375 Park Ave. in Cranston, is opening its third location this Thursday and first in Rhode Island with some help from a local legend. Providence native Peter Manfredo Sr., a world kickboxing champion and professional boxer and trainer, is coming back to his home state to help christen the gym.

He has trained adults for years, but he said he is happiest to get back to instructing kids on proper technique.

“It’s going to be exciting for me because I haven’t really worked with kids in a while,” Manfredo, who has more than 45 years of experience in the sport, said, “I’m interested in getting kids into physical conditioning. They’re always on computers. This way it will help the kids become better athletes and more concerned about physical fitness and I’ll be able to touch a lot of lives if I can do that.”

Dena Paolino, who created the concept for Striking Beauties in 2009, agreed with that sentiment. Fundamentals such as stance and footwork will be vital to the children’s courses, though no physical contact is allowed until the amateur level.

“Boxing is so good for young kids to instill discipline and focus as well as the fitness part of it,” Paolino said. “If they are every interested in moving up to the next level we have an amateur program. We start them at age 6 and focus on the fitness part of boxing as well as the skills and fundamentals.”

Striking Beauties was originally intended to provide women with a boxing gym “of their own,” but it has seen male attendance grow steadily as well. She will operate the Cranston gym with Tiffany Wetherbee, who owns Torched Kickboxing in North Attleboro.

Paolino, an amateur boxer herself and criminal attorney since 1991, now puts the ratio at about 60/40 for women and men, respectively.

“I knew what an incredible workout boxing was and a woman wasn’t going to go into a typical dingy gym,” Paolino said. “Providence, Rhode Island, was our second [gym], then we outgrew it and closed it. This will be out first time back in Rhode Island in years, we’re very excited to be back in Rhode Island.”

Manfredo won’t be the only high-profile professional trainer at Striking Beauties. Shelly Vincent, a world champion boxer, and MMA fighter Nate “The Snake” Andrews will also work as instructors. Having that experience on-hand is crucial, according to Manfredo.

“I think it’s extremely important because they have somebody who will show them the right way,” Manfredo said. “I’m trying to help get rid of obesity. I got to Europe a lot, Canada a lot. I went to France and they were riding their bikes in the cold. They constantly think about their physical fitness.”

Paolino added that the gym “insists” anyone interested to take an introductory class before venturing into boxing and kickboxing courses. She said anyone can stop by the gym today for the grand opening for a meet-and-greet or for any more information.

Those who cannot attend can visit the gym’s Facebook page, Striking Beauties Cranston, or call 508-699-KICK (5425).

According to Wetherbee, the first 50 members of the Cranston gym will receive an introductory rate and a free pair of gloves.


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