Home Local Sports Dungeon Boxing teaches skills used in and out of the ring

Dungeon Boxing teaches skills used in and out of the ring

Grant "Sweet Pea" Steen gets in some time on the punching bag at Dungeon Boxing Club.
Photos courtesy of Visit Richmond County

Tucked away in the outskirts of Rockingham, The Dungeon Boxing Club is fully licensed and sanctioned by USA Boxing and welcomes potential or experienced boxers, age 7 and up, from any background, or any skill level. 

“Every boxer here has a story — what brought them here and how being here has changed them,” said Dungeon founder and professional boxing coach Mario Olivera Jr., who emphasized that although he established the Dungeon, the real owners are the boxers and the community. 

At the age of 2, Olivera moved with his family from Puerto Rico to New Jersey and started boxing training at age 8. From the age of 12 until he was 25, Olivera competed as an amateur boxer.

In 1993, after the passing of his parents, Olivera was ready to change the pace from the busy city life and relocated to Richmond County. Two of his four children also moved to the county and he began training his eldest grandson, Nicolas Williams, who was 5 years old, in his basement. Family and friends would come to watch and join in on the training.

Over time, the group outgrew the basement and thus the Dungeon Boxing Club was born. Jamell Brown, who is also Olivera’s grandson, currently trains at the Dungeon and holds three amateur belts, is a two-time Golden Gloves champion, and was a Georgia Games medalist. 

Confidence, determination, discipline, endurance and perseverance represent the core foundational tenets of the Dungeon that are heavily embedded into the high-intensity training regime of Olivera and his coaching staff and volunteers.

“Life is like a boxing match; defeat is not declared when you fall, but when you refuse to stand again,” Olivera said.

Equipping his students with the skills necessary to defend themselves has marked effects that far exceed physicality. The mental stimulation of boxing coupled with the physical component results in quite the power punch. 


Many of the current and former Dungeon boxers accredit the club as a healthy outlet to focus their energy, manage stress, and be a part of the close camaraderie among the boxers and coaches. These lifelong skills go far beyond empowering boxers athletically; the sport offers a holistic enhancement incorporating mental acuity and focus, physical skills and strength, and provides an outlet to process and manage behavioral and emotional stressors. 

The wide range of boxing benefits for people of all ages have been touted in a multitude of scholarly research studies, medical journals, and fitness publications. Improved hand-eye coordination, balance, confidence, endurance, and strength are just a few of the well-documented benefits of boxing. Additionally, boxing has been proven to reduce hypertension, improve heart health, boost memory, and mitigate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. 

Since its inception, the club boasts 14 state champions, six Golden Glove champions, three Junior Olympic champions, four Tough Man champions, four regional champions, one Paul Murphy Tire champion, the first National Female Silver Gloves champion, three North Carolina Boxers of the Year, and one N.C. Coach of the Year. 

Do you have what it takes? Looking to improve your mental and physical health? Does your child have limitless energy and limited focus? 

Contact Olivera for more details or tell him to add another boxer to the roster.

The Dungeon is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 4-6 p.m.. For more information, call 910-417-5262 or email dungeonboxingclub@yahoo.com. 

(Republished from the Visit Richmond County Blog.)

From left: Devin Watson, Brandon Wiltshire, Mario Olivera Jr., Jamell Brown; front, Alexis Salazar.

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