HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Eight years ago, David Boateng left Ghana in Western Africa to pursue his dreams in the United States. On Saturday, his main dream came true with the opening of Legends Fitness + Boxing, a new gym that has opened in the Festival Mall in Hamilton Township.
Boateng is a former welterweight boxer who then became a powerlifter in his native country. In his latter role he went on to become Mr. Ghana as well as Mr. West Africa in 2010.
When he emigrated to the United States he became a dealer at four casinos in Atlantic City. He also worked at Atilis Gym in Egg Harbor Township.
“My plan was to work hard and save money in order to realize my dream of opening a gym,” he said. “I didn’t want to depend on the government for help.
“When I saw that this site was available, I immediately expressed an interest.”
The building where his business opened was perfectly laid out as it was the site of the former Anytime Fitness location.
The gym is primarily boxing and strength-training focused with rows of heavy bags occupying the front of the building. The site also includes a large variety of weightlifting equipment, treadmills and ellipticals. There is also a room for various classes including yoga, Zumba and pilates.
Stephanie Dalpe assisted Boateng in getting the business started and serves as general manager.
“Dave’s passion for fitness is why I am here to help and support him,” she said. “It’s a way of giving back to the community.”
Boateng credits Ventnor residents Bruce and Debbie Banasz for his success. Boateng met Bruce Banasz when they trained at Island Gym.
“We immediately developed a friendship,” Banasz said. “He came to this country with nothing except a strong desire to succeed.
“He had a variety of jobs including pushing a rolling chair on the Boardwalk and as a home health care worker. He then earned his gaming licenses and was hired by Ocean Resort. He also became a certified personal trainer.
“He has worked so hard to save money to realize his dream, while also sending money to his mother in Ghana and also to his brother who is on his way to becoming the first family member to graduate college.”
“He is like my godfather,” Boateng said of Banasz. “I can’t thank him and his wife enough.”
“Your dedication and desire to succeed is what made this all possible,” Banasz said.
Trish Cleveland has been fitness training with Boateng for 4½ years.