Antoine Fuqua’s sports film ‘Southpaw’ follows Billy “The Great” Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal), a renowned boxing champion. Billy’s incredible career gets affected when his wife Maureen Hope gets killed inadvertently amid a brawl. Although the boxer seeks comfort in alcohol and drugs for a while, he realizes the need for fighting for his life to be a better father for his daughter Leila. A new chapter of Billy’s life begins at Wills Gym as Titus “Tick” Wills agrees to be his new trainer. As Billy regains his fighting spirit and physicality to be a champion again, one must be wondering whether Wills Gym really exists. Here’s everything you need to know about the same!
Is Wills Gym a Real Gym?
No, Wills Gym is not a real gym. Like the owner of the gym, trainer Titus “Tick” Wills, the establishment is also fictional. However, the exterior of the gym belongs to Carrick Community Boxing Academy, located at 2702 Brownsville Road, in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Although the academy, also locally known as the Carrick gym, doesn’t have any connection with Wills Gym, the former played an integral role in the community of Brownsville like the latter plays in the film. As of yet, Carrick gym is permanently closed.
As far as the narrative of the film is concerned, Wills Gym plays an integral role in the same. Billy joining the gym and becoming the cleaner of the place marks the rock bottom of the once-celebrated champion. From headlining events at Madison Square Garden, Billy falls to cleaning toilets at Wills Gym. While his rival Miguel “Magic” Escobar trains using world-class equipment and gym facilities, Billy trains with the resources available at Wills Gym, which shows the disparity between the two boxers. The severity of Billy’s downfall enhances the redemption arc of the character.
Although Wills Gym is fictional, it has roots in reality. There are several gyms all around the world that have become a significant part of the communities they are located in, opening a stage for people to begin their journey as boxers, athletes, or sportsmen. Wills Gym resembles them since it offers a space for underprivileged children like Hoppy and his friends to dream bigger. For the same children, Wills Gym is not just a fitness center but also a shelter where their dreams aren’t crushed.
Even though Wills Gym is not real, the equipment used in the place gave birth to a real gym. “So the exchange is he is going to give me some of the equipment, and he donated a boxing ring and we are going to put up on the Centre Avenue at the old (YMCA) on the hill. There hasn’t been a gym there in about 10 years, so I’m reopening the gym,” Jimmy Cvetic, executive director of the Western Pennsylvania Police Athletic League, told WTAE about using the gym equipment used in the film to open a new gym.