Brick City Boxing was open for business Monday.
“There’s a big hole in the door, but I’m still having classes,” business owner Joe Hanks said later that day.
The former IBA Americas heavyweight champion had been through a lot during the previous 12 hours or so. Hanks said the gym he opened nearly two years ago for “Pasadena folks who wanted to have a safe space” had been broken into and robbed for the second time in less than two months at around 2:30 a.m.
“I’m just trying to run a business here,” Hanks said. “I do so much for the community, so much for the kids in the community, the adults in the community, the police, fire, everybody. I thought I would be in the clear.”
He added: “It sucks for me financially, emotionally. But, you know, I’m a fighter. I’m resilient.”
The Pasadena Police Department confirmed that it’s investigating two burglary incidents at Brick City Boxing, on May 13 and Monday, but have yet to determine whether the cases are connected.
According to Hanks, the first incident also occurred at around 2:30 a.m. The glass in a side window was broken and numerous items were stolen, including Hanks’ laptop, the championship belt he won by defeating Alfredo Escelera Jr. in July 2011, and his gloves from that bout.
On Monday, Hanks said, a glass door was shattered. Security footage viewed by The Times shows someone leaving with some small-sized equipment. Pasadena police said the suspect was described as a Black male approximately 6 feet tall with a thin build and wearing a windbreaker, sweatpants and athletic shoes. There was no suspect information on the first case.
“The first time when it happened … I was like, you know what, lesson learned. Don’t leave anything of value in the gym,” Hanks said. “This time I’m sure there was, like, nothing in there, so they just took weights and some yoga mats. Like, ‘Whatever we was looking for wasn’t there, let’s just go ahead and take something.’”
Details are not available about the financial value of what was stolen.
After Hanks, Pasadena assistant city manager David Reyes was the first to arrive at the gym that morning, a couple minutes early for a 6 a.m. class. Reyes said he saw “literally, glass everywhere. It actually got into the ring as well as the workout area. … You know, it’s that kind of glass that shatters into the little cubes, so those little cubes are just everywhere.”
“Everybody’s helping out, you know. I built a community. I built a real community here.”
— Joe Hanks, owner of Brick City Boxing in Pasadena
So Reyes grabbed a broom. He said he was soon joined in the cleanup effort by at least four others who had come for the same class.
“There was a second broom, someone grabbed a broom,” Reyes said. “And someone else grabbed a mop, and we all sort of just started getting it together so Joe could potentially have classes later in the day, make it safe for folks. … There’s a real family environment at that gym because Joe’s so welcoming.”
Hanks, 40, grew up in Newark, N.J., and has lived with his wife and three kids in Pasadena for four years, just five minutes from his business. According to the Brick City Boxing website, Hanks opened the gym in an effort “to build a fitness community” following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those efforts include training police and fire personnel, leading volunteer youth programs and working with single mothers and children who have disabilities or special needs or are bullied.
While the break-ins and robberies have been disappointing, Hanks said, the outpouring of support afterward has been uplifting.
“You got the assistant city manager grabbing a broom, people who work for the Dodgers who are part of my clientele, people here who live in Pasadena, everybody’s helping out, you know,” Hanks said. “I built a community. I built a real community here.”
So after the cleanup was finished, it was business as usual at his gym.
“People come to have a place to decompress,” Hanks said, “so when they come through the door I don’t want to cheat them of the experience they show up for.”
Even if that door has a big hole in it.