St. Paul’s Rice Street Rocker giving back through ‘Old School’ gym

February 7, 2020

Storied boxer Mike Evgen hopes to mentor kids at his East Side St. Paul boxing gym 

In the boxing ring, the Rice Street Rocker was relentless, fearless, continually pressing opponents with piston-like jabs and damaging uppercuts.

Twenty years later, Mike Evgen’s step is a bit slower, his gait not as sure. But the 53-year-old is no less determined to pass on lessons he learned of dedication, discipline and determination to a new generation of boxers.

After a couple of years of planning, fundraising, regulatory hiccups and dimmed hopes, Evgen’s Rice Street “Old School” Boxing Gym is officially open on St. Paul’s East Side. The idea, he said, is not just to train a new wave of champions, but to give young people a safe way out of a world troubled by crime, addiction and uncertainty.

“My goal would be to see a kid come in, shy, afraid of his own shadow, and then come here for a couple of weeks, start hitting the bag and just get some confidence,” Evgen said. “Walk around with their head high. Shoulders back. Feel a little more good about themselves. That’s truly, truly what I want.”