Outsports will host its kickoff party for Outsports Pride on the gorgeous rooftop deck at Boxers HK on June 21.
Gay bars come and go. Particularly in New York City.
Yet Boxers, the gay sports bar that originally opened its first location on 20th Street in Chelsea, is now starting its 10th year, going stronger than ever, and spreading across New York City and beyond.
When Boxers first popped up in Manhattan, there was already a gay sports bar in the neighborhood: Gym Sports Bar, which opened in Chelsea in 2005. While some may have scratched their heads at two gay bars opening within just a few years and within a few blocks of one another, Boxers owner Rob Hynds has found there’s enough interest in gay bars — including sports-themed bars — to make every business owner happy.
“Manhattan is such a big monster, and the gay community is so big and diverse and people want to go out in their neighborhood,” Hynds told Outsports recently. “Once you walk a few blocks it’s kind of a different area. They draw their crowd and we draw our crowd.”
Boxers has tested that theory and opened three Boxers bars across Manhattan, each of which has tapped into the neighborhood LGBTQ community: in Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and the Upper East Side.
This summer they are slated to open a fourth bar in Washington Heights, the area of Manhattan north of 155th Street.
“There’s quite a gay community up there,” Hynds said. “It’s like the new Hell’s Kitchen.”
A Boxers bar has also popped up in Philadelphia, making the chain “multi-city.”
The gay sports bar was founded by men in the local gay pool league looking for a place to play the sport they love. They have stayed true to their roots, remaining heavily involved in local LGBTQ sports leagues. The bar is proud to be a sponsor of New York’s softball, flag football, swimming, dodgeball, running, pool and basketball teams and leagues, among other groups.
Hynds himself played in the Big Apple Softball League for “a long time,” which he eventually quantified as “about 30 years.”
That’s a long time.
The owners are particularly proud of the impact they have had on the lives of their employees. While providing jobs to 100 people in New York and Philadelphia is important to them, the building of an LGBTQ-friendly community for those employees is equally important.
“It’s changed a lot of people’s lives,” Hynds said. “A lot of our bartenders are young guys and they are just figuring out their lives. We had a note from one of our bartenders just a few weeks ago. He came to Boxers young and impressionable, and he’s found his place.”
That isn’t to say that all of the Boxers bartenders are gay or bi. They’re not. In fact, the owners caught hell from a handful of patrons when they hired their first straight bartenders. But for the owners, if the bartender is “hot and friendly,” and can handle a sometimes fast-paced work environment, that’s what matters.
Regardless of who pours the drinks, Boxers has become one of the preeminent gay sports bars in the country. And who knows, the latest Boxers could be opening up in your city before you know it.
Outsports will host its kickoff party for Outsports Pride on the gorgeous rooftop deck at Boxers HK, 742 Ninth Ave. (& 50th St.) on Thursday, June 21, 7pm-9pm. Outsports Pride features a weekend of gatherings, social events, the NYC Pride March, and a Dodgers-Mets game. Registrants for Outsports Pride will receive free food and drink specials during our Boxers HK kickoff event.