A bunch of boxers walk into a bar, looking for a fight — true story!
Last Wednesday, Jan. 31, the dance floor at the Bowery Ballroom on the Lower East Side was filled with a regulation boxing ring on the occasion of the launch of a new collection of boxing gear, a collaboration between Everlast, East Village artist John Holmstrom and the funkiest boxing gym in town, Overthrow.
Boxers from the joint also faced off in a number of bouts that preceded some great performances from bands that used the ring as their stage.
Joey Goodwin, founder and CEO of Overthrow, has a background in marketing fashion, at one time with his own label, Unruly Heir. A previous collaboration with designer Rick Owens was a success, encouraging him to proceed with the Overthrow boxing gear utilizing PUNK magazine co-founder Holmstrom’s designs for the new line.
Goodwin informs us that “What Holmstrom did with his magazine (in 1975) inspired a lot of others. It was a DIY pirate culture.”
Goodwin created the boxing club in 2014, taking over the space from the Yippies, a radical activist group.
“When I first saw it, it looked like a bomb went off inside and it smelled like cats#!t,” Goodwin recalled. “But I knew that it was the right place for me. My father thought I was insane.”
Rachel Kay, a punk and boxing enthusiast, “practically grew up there.” Her dad, Aron Kay, was the infamous Yippie known as “The Pie Man” for his penchant for attention getting shenanigans involving pies and politicians. When Overthrow took over the space, she worked and trained there.
An avid fan of downtown rock and roll, Kay is uniquely situated to provide a review of the new gear.
“I love boxing,” she relates. “It’s exhilarating, beautiful and meditative. And I love the collaboration! Everlast is a cool brand, and who doesn’t love punk? The colors are strong and the clothes are really comfortable.”
Holmstrom’s decision to work on the line was a no-brainer.
“When I was first offered the opportunity to be included with Everlast, the boxing/sporting goods giant, I was thrilled!” he says. “Growing up in the 1960s, I was a big fan of Muhammad Ali. The way he put his heavyweight title on the line to protest the Vietnam War was an inspiration.
“As things developed,” he continues, “Overthrow ended up designing some very impressive clothing! For some weird reason, clothing designers all over the world love to play with the Punk Skeleton guy wearing a PUNK t-shirt, which appeared in the first issue of PUNK 48 years ago ! ”
As for the launch party — which featured performances by Vic Mensa, the Oxymorrons and The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black, each of whom used the ring for a stage — Holmstrom raves about the evening.
“The way Overthrow decorated the Bowery Ballroom, from the Swag Booth to the walls next to the stage to the ring mat, was very impressive! It’s too bad that the boxing ring took up most of the space so that a lot of people couldn’t get in, but what a show! I loved seeing boxing matches paired with live music, it’s the kind of event I’ve always wanted to see.”
“I never thought I’d see a boxing ring in the middle of the Bowery Ballroom,” Kay adds. “The whole thing was fantastic! Everybody was in a great mood and the energy was amazing.”
All of the boxers wore the new gear in the ring, as did the ring girls (and ring guys) and some of the musicians. Goodwin was thrilled with how it all went.
“What we did for one night was throw the best event in NYC!” he proclaims. “We connected the past and the present, but I really thought that John Holmstrom was going to hate the event. I went up to him at the end of the night and said, ‘so what did you think ?’ And he just said ‘I’m so happy.’ I was blown away!”
The party may be over, but the gym goes on, although Goodwin thinks that term shortchanges the place.
“What can I say about Overthrow?” Goodwin muses. “Calling it a gym would only be a small part of the story. Steeped in the deep counterculture and activist history of #9 Bleecker and downtown New York, Overthrow is a feeling! People come to learn to box but stay for the cultural and community experiences.”
And the t-shirts, we might add.