NEWTON — It’s closing time for Suitela Fight Club.
The long-established martial arts and boxing gym will close on Oct. 1, owner Andy Suitela told the Now today.
The last classes taught there will happen on Wednesday evening (Sept. 28), he said.
“My father, Henri Suitela, turned 74 yesterday,” the younger Suitela noted in an email. “He wants to retire. He opened his first dojo at the George Vanier Elementary school in Newton in September 1970.
“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 11 years ago,” he continued. “My health has been on a slow but steady decline. So my father and I both have our reasons for wanting to retire.”
Suitela listed some of the champs the club has developed over the past couple of decades, including “Dave ‘The Butcher’ Stewart, Grayson Wells, Leonard Tam, Myles ‘The Cowboy’ Merola, Inderjit Bisla….”
The club is located on 82nd Avenue near 124th Street in Surrey.
Suitela has run his club in Newton for more than 20 years, offering courses in boxing, kickboxing, MMA, karate and jiu jitsu. He started in martial arts at age five, training and his dad’s karate school at George Vanier.
“I remember I wanted to quit when I was 11,” Suitela told the Now in 2015. “He said, ‘That’s fine, but you’re grounded until you’re 18,'” Suitela recalled with a laugh. “That was motivation to continue training.”
Suitela trained under his dad’s watch for 22 years, entering his first tournament at five and retiring from in-ring competition at 27 — arguably before his prime, but as he put it, “Sometimes the preparation for the fight can be more brutal than the fight itself.”
Late Monday, Suitela said an “exit strategy” to close the club has been in the works for close to four years. He’s now pursuing a career in the local movie business, on the security side of things.