Dino Newville made a living knocking down opponents during a kickboxing career that saw him win four world championships.
Newville, who now operates Blue’s Gym in Grand Rapids, spent this weekend helping others.
Blue’s Gym offers boxing and mixed martial arts classes and lessons to local youth. But on Saturday afternoon, it opened its doors to people in need in the community. Newville played Santa Claus, with a mask and minus the red costume and white beard.
Newville, with the help of community leaders and family members, however, had plenty of freebies.
The gymnasium, which is non-profit and also serves as a faith-based ministry, offered 125 Christmas dinners, including ham and vegetables for visitors to take home. There were also gloves, hats, shoes, toys and gift certificates to offer.
“Growing up, I watched my dad do this for a lot of kids in Grand Rapids for many years,” Newville said. “He’s helped a lot of people and made kids smile a lot over the years, and I wanted to do it. I wanted to continue. So I have been doing every year since 1998.
“Every child deserves to go to bed with a full stomach. Every child deserves a meal and every child deserves a Christmas present. Thank goodness so many people wanted to help me. People can take dinner home and have food that will last them for a few days. “
Grand Rapids businesses have made their contribution. Newville also called on the Michigan State Police Department and the Grand Rapids Police Department to stop, and that’s exactly what officers did. Kent County Commissioner Monica Sparks also attended.
“Of course we can make the kids happy and help a lot of people by donating food and clothes,” Newville said. “But do you know what it feels like to see a policeman over there, the Superintendent?” I think it means a lot.
As Newville has been giving back to the community for over two decades with his Christmas work, he said the opportunity to do so this year was even more special.
“You would be surprised how many people I knew who had a good job and were successful, but now they are lucky because of COVID,” Newville said. “I’m just happy to have the chance to put a smile on their faces.”