Growing up, Vic Lashley ate, slept and breathed boxing and mixed martial arts. He trained with renowned masters, grandmasters and senseis all over the world. The skills he had developed – including self-defense, discipline and dedication – have stayed with him, even through his service as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army and a correctional officer. By Brianna Bohn
Growing up, Vic Lashley ate, slept and breathed boxing and mixed martial arts. He trained with renowned masters, grandmasters and senseis all over the world. The skills he had developed – including self-defense, discipline and dedication – have stayed with him, even through his service as an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army and a correctional officer.
After years of practicing and seeing the impact that boxing and martial arts had on his life, Lashley realized that he wanted to do two things: have a positive impact on his community and create a real combat gym, without choreographed workouts or gimmicks.
“When I left corrections, I wanted to pursue my dream and calling: to teach boxing and martial arts, especially to the youth,” said Lashley, who opened his first gym in 1989. “I love working with the kids. It’s a feeling I can’t explain. When they get the technique and gain more confidence, that means everything.”
Southpaw Gym, formerly ICAT, has two locations in Neptune and Toms River, New Jersey, which serve a wide range of clients, from 4-year-olds to 84-year-olds. The brand, which launched its franchising efforts in July 2021, has opportunities available in hot markets up and down the East Coast.
With over 30 years of successful business management experience – and a team of trainers who are all certified, sanctioned and licensed through USA Boxing and their martial arts organizations – Southpaw Gym provides comprehensive training and mentorship for franchise owners. Stephanie Lashley, Vic’s wife and co-founder of Southpaw Gym, spoke about their excitement and commitment to franchisees as they continue to grow.
“We will come to you with our coaches and do all of the training. We help with every administrative aspect: hiring, training, signings, sales, software, location selection and fit-out. We will teach you how to run this business and do it successfully, from soup to nuts. We’re in it 100%,” she said, adding that her knowledge as a real estate agency owner can help franchisees find the perfect space.
Locations range from 2,300 to 5,000 square feet and can generate multiple revenue streams. Once franchisees get their foot in the door, they have the opportunity to help their community and build their business with various events and programs, including birthday parties, self-defense workshops, law-enforcement trainings and summer camps that act as a safe haven for children.
From teaching heavyweight champion Kevin Johnson how to throw his first punch to working with the late actor James Gandolfini and his son, Michael, Vic Lashley trains anyone who wants to gain mental and physical strength. Southpaw Gym offers programs for people of all ages and backgrounds, whether they’re students attending the brand’s afterschool program, Hooks and Books, or Realtors learning how to defend themselves in a specialty workshop. Of all the community outreach that the Lashleys do, however, Ringside Rescue – Advocates for At-Risk Youth is near and dear to their hearts.
“We have a nonprofit, Ringside Rescue – Advocates for At-Risk Youth, which was birthed when Vic was in juvenile corrections, and he saw how many kids went through there that didn’t have to. Through Ringside Rescue, we are able to do a ton of stuff in the community. We work with these kids and turn their lives around,” Stephanie Lashley said.
Prospective franchisees passionate about making a difference in their community can invest in a ground-floor opportunity. Visit Southpaw Gym’s website and click “own a Southpaw” to learn more.