The Many Guns Boxing and Fitness Center hosted a grand opening Aug. 21, inviting the Siksika and the surrounding community to check out and celebrate the facility.
The facility is designed with both physical and mental wellbeing in mind and the team hopes for the gym to be a beneficial place for people to reach their mental health and fitness goals, while promoting the sport and values of boxing.
Therapeutic physical trainer with Siksika Mental Health, Manny Yellowfly, said getting the facility operational has been a herculean project, but one that has been well worth the effort.
“It was a process right from facility operations to event planning, program planning, getting contractors in here day in, day out … and I had a few of our team members help me out here and there,” said Yellowfly.
Prior to getting the gym set up, the building was essentially a big metal shell that needed installations from the ground up.
“It’s kind of funny, (most people) didn’t really know it was here … a lot of people are coming in not knowing that all this was here. It feels good to give them a surprise like something to look forward to,” he added. “COVID-19 put a big burden on physical, emotional and social health, so hopefully we can resolve some of that with (our) programs.”
The Many Guns Family, of whom the facility is named, are well known amongst the community and have deep roots in Siksika Nation. Specifically, the facility honours the late Clifford Many Guns.
“Whether it’s in sports, rodeo, (or) culture, their family expands to a variety of things in the nation, and it’s an honour to the late Clifford Many Guns and (to) carry on his legacy through some of the programs we’re going to do here,” said Yellowfly.
Jeanette Many Guns, Clifford’s daughter, added having the facility named after the family is very emotional for them and is glad to see her father honoured through the facility.
“We just couldn’t believe it because my dad did so much for this nation and he’s finally being honoured. It was emotional but we’re very proud,” she said. “Everybody knew my dad … my cousins, they would say ‘when we hear Siksika Nation, we just think of Clifford Many Guns.’ He was known all over the place (and) was a very friendly man.”
Many Guns explained Clifford was the great-nephew of Chief Crowfoot, and was a prolific athlete within the nation, among his other occupations.
Yellowfly said now that the gym is open, the team will be offering select free programs for a few weeks to get people in the door and trying out the facility. These will include boxing, muay thai, sports performance, yoga and circuit training
He added the gym is also somewhat unique both in the area and in Canada, as only a few other facilities in the country boast similar training equipment.
“We’ve been super busy for the last few months and it finally feels good. Now we can breathe a little bit,” said Yellowfly. “I hope this inspires not only just youth, (but) all ages to come out and try a program.”
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times