When three-time world boxing champion Joey Gamache Jr. was a 9-year-old playing baseball in Lewiston, his father, Joe Sr., had an idea.
“He threw the ball with a big arch on it,” Joe Sr. said. “I wanted him to throw it straight. I thought the gym would make him stronger so we joined the Lewiston Boxing Club. I’m talking and I turn around, I can still remember seeing him standing on a chair, hitting the bag.”
Joe Sr. began helping the owners and promoters, doing much of the legwork setting up fight cards back in the late 1980s as his son compiled an 84-12 record as an amateur. He eventually bought the gym.
“That’s when I was drywalling,” he said. “We’d be working in New Hampshire sheetrocking a place, all covered with it and me and Gerry (Norton) would hustle back to the gym just in time to unlock the doors. No shower or nothing. Those were the days.”
He has spent the past three decades at the Gamache Boxing Club in the bowels of the Lewiston Armory. Boxers arrive at 5:30 p.m. when Joe Sr. or one of his trainers unlocks the door. People of all ages and walks of life snake their way into the tiny windowless gym that looks and smells like something out of a “Rocky” movie. There are no weights or fancy machines, just simple calisthenics.
Long after his son retired as a boxer (now living in New York City), Joe Sr. keeps going at 72 after beating prostate and colon cancers.
“It’s part for the love of the sport,” he said. “the other is it keeps kids off the streets,” he said.
On June 19, he’s hosting his first pro fight card in more than five years at the Multi-Purpose Center in Lewiston.