Located in Santa Monica, California, the Churchill Boxing Club is making a name for itself as a multifaceted boxing gym, welcoming people of all skill level and circumstance – educating, motivating, inspiring.
The gym is owned by Peter Berg. That name may be recognizable, as Berg is a film luminary, known for acting, writing, producing and, most notably, directing movies, TV shows and documentaries. He first opened it in 2013 alongside actor friend the late Garry Shandling and third partner Scott Burns. Famed boxing coach Freddie Roach was also on board, which explained the original “Wild Card West Boxing Club” tag, closely matching Roach’s own West Coast establishment (the Wild Card proper).
Declaring a long-standing relationship with boxing, Berg’s association with the noble art runs deep. He acknowledges a genuine fascination with the sport that led to film making projects featuring the likes of Hall of Fame trainer Roach. Boxing remains unique in its capacity to provide drama and spectacle on cinematic proportions and Berg eagerly tapped in to that. Wild Card West long held a reputation for welcoming celebrities and street urchins wandering through its doors in equal measure, seeking a workout. In 2018 they rebranded as the Churchill Boxing Gym.
Glowing social media reviews speak of a warm and friendly welcome from staff members only too happy to accommodate potential new joiners. A plethora of classes and programs are facilitated in the gym; run by a high-quality roster of instructors including boxer/actor Derek Zugic, Cesar Martinez, Shane Mosley Jr and Josh Landers. Whether you’re signing up for a kids class, high interval boxing training, sparring, or boxing technique lessons you will literally be learning from the best. That’s because ex-pros like Brian Viloria and Wale Omotoso are involved in the fitness classes.
Hawaiian Viloria was a talented Olympian who fought at the highest level in the pro game; claiming world glory in different weight divisions across a fine career. If Brian can teach as well as he can skip then clients are in for a rare workout. Overall, his association with the gym only adds further credibility.
Wale Omotoso, meanwhile, was a solid fighter who boxed the like of Jesse Vargas but never quite hit the ultimate heights as a pro. Now lending the experience gained from an 11-year, 30-fight career that ended with 27 wins and only three losses (never knocked out), the Nigerian-born scrapper now works regularly in Berg’s establishment.
South African southpaw Chris Van Heerden is also on the training team. Van Heerden is of course famous for sparring Conor McGregor during the Irish fighter’s infamous build-up to a cross-sport battle with Floyd Mayweather in 2017.
A great storyteller, Peter Berg tells the tale of how a busted sewer pipe led to a chance meeting with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, whose presence later helped revive the gym as the Mexican star made it his headquarters. Berg’s links to boxing have since expanded with him taking on a management role in the career of WBO title challenger Alex Saucedo. Current WBC “Diamond” super-lightweight champion Regis Prograis is also signed under the Churchill Management banner. Peter Berg could be seen at ringside for Prograis’ win over Terry Flanagan on October 27 in New Orleans. Berg was no doubt pleased with what he saw from one of his star names. The gym is also often reserved for TV shots or for media workouts, with the likes of Top Rank’s Irish prospect Michael Conlan using the facilities for sessions in front of the cameras.
Other fighters who have trodden the boards to sell a fight or message to an eager gathering of scribes and videographers include former middleweight king Gennady Golovkin. Splitting his time between Kazakhstan and Los Angeles, fearsome Golovkin usually trains diligently up at Abel Sanchez’s Big Bear gym in California. Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and former pound-for-pound claimant Roman Gonzalez -Nicaragua’s lower-weight kingpin- have also been present at various times, as has the legendary “Sugar” Shane Mosley.
Not limiting his output to merely matters of physical fitness, Berg has also drafted in some top talent to deliver celebrity speaking series at his Santa Monica base. Local police officers, firefighters and military veterans have been offered the chance to hear the likes of combat sports MC Bruce Buffer and former Navy SEAL Jocko Willink giving educational talks and motivational speeches.
Peter Berg, co-owner of the Wild Card West Boxing Gym chats with Boxing Hall of Fame commentator Al Bernstein