Building Community: Trigger Boxing


Saving and Changing the Lives of Michigan’s Youth

At-risk youth are often encouraged to find a productive outlet to relieve their pain, angst, or anger, and often a physical activity such as running, football, or boxing is recommended. For Bill Bustance, it was boxing. Owner of the longstanding Trigger Boxing Gym, Bustance and his wife Robbin help coach kids who want to be better and are willing to work hard to make that happen.

“It takes a bit of confidence and self-assuredness, and that’s kind of what I try to cultivate in people — and it may seem aggressive — but they can answer back in an assertive tone. ‘No’ is the magic word, and that’s what I’m trying to get them to say — no instead of sorry,” says Bustance.

“You feel better about yourself, and it’s like there’s that power you didn’t have in you. It’s something you didn’t know you had until after you did it. Bill sort of brings that out of you,” said a 7th-grade girl who attends Bustance’s class.

Some kids have emerged from Bustance’s boxing program with changed lives. Kids have lost their stutter and found their true voice; women have connected with the innate power within them and the strength of their bodies. Bustance and his work have been widely recognized by Michigan media. He was also named by Northern Express as one of its 25 Most Fascinating People in 2015.

When I spoke with Bustance, I was taken aback by his calm demeanor. Sure, he is used to dealing with all kinds of clientele – at-risk youth, prestigious doctors and lawyers, even celebrities. Still, I was expecting someone rough around the edges. Instead, Bustance was at once insightful and refreshingly simple. He and his wife have taken kids in for summers at a time who were struggling in some way and provided a stable (but active) environment for them to work through their trials.

He encouraged me to review articles that had been published about him and the gym, so I did some research to unearth more background on Bustance and his wife and the business they’ve developed. I came across a quote that summarized my interaction with Bustance, but is also a consistent theme and truth in life:

“My priority is to be a productive human being. I operate a gym. I do what somebody did for me when I was younger, and I do it well, because I’ve not always done things well and treated people nicely, and so I know how to do that now. I know how to listen, and I know how to do those things. That’s what part of it is, too: retribution to society.”

 Group class started again this fall. The gym is open every day except Sundays and Wednesdays. You can contact the gym to learn more about class offerings.

Trigger Boxing 1220 Woodmere Avenue, Unit D, Traverse City, MI 49686 l (231) 933-7050 |