There are winners and there are losers. And then there are those who win, even when they lose. The latter could describe two of the area's newest business owners as they run, punch, and jump to reach new heights in their community.
Meet Tim and Matt Browning. Not only are they co-owners of Riverside Sports Academy, but they are also biological brothers as well. Riverside Sports Academy is a sports training facility located in Port Huron that offers group fitness classes, personal training sessions, explosive training, strength training, self defense, and boxing training to a variety of age ranges that opened its doors on Jan. 4, 2021.
Tim is a certified personal trainer
, resident of Smiths Creek, and is the youngest sibling of his parents' eight children. Born in Detroit, Tim and his family moved to Port Huron when he was just one year old. Since his early days as a child, Tim has always been active, from playing childhood games such as tag with his siblings to his later years on the football field and running track for Northern High School in Port Huron.
Tim has been a certified ACE (American Council on Exercise) personal trainer for five years. He realized training is something he was passionate about around the age of 17 when he started boxing. “You’ve gotta know what to train, how long to train, and that all comes with knowledge. And that all comes with the mindset. You gotta become a boxer,” he says.
In his early years of boxing, Tim was a feared and respected two-time Golden Glove winner. He attributes his success to his late father who passed away unexpectedly back in 2004, one year before his high school graduation. “As a father he was a perfect man: funny, wise, knowledgeable. He could tell you things,” Tim says.
Before he and his brother decided to open up their own gym — or academy, as they prefer to call it — Tim worked at numerous local fitness facilities over the years. He’s worked with the YMCA for three years, Viking Fitness, Anytime Fitness, and St. Clair County Community College. “I feel like you just can't help everybody at one place, and I still believe that,” he says.
Building a home
We have met one half of the dynamic duo, now let's introduce the other half behind Riverside Sports Academy. Matt Browning, a Kimball Township resident, is the elder of the two brothers. When he’s not training clients at the academy he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend and his young daughter Malena.
Matt, like his brother, has always been an athlete. In high school he excelled at what he deems his first love and passion, football. After graduating from Port Huron High, Matt then went off to college at Grand Rapids Community College where he stayed for two years and made the football team as a walk-on. After college, Matt took his talents to Canada where he received a sponsorship to play football in Sarnia, Ontario, for 3 to 4 years up until the birth of his daughter.
When it comes to the business, Matt deals more with the boxing aspect of training. Being a certified boxing trainer, Matt likes to focus more on training his clients in the ways of holding your own in the ring whereas his brother Tim likes to train in a variety of areas. He has trained fighters who have gone on to win everything from Golden Glove awards to placing in national tournaments.
Although they are serious businessmen who train to punch and pummel opponents, their chemistry and brotherly love keep them lighthearted and playful. When asked who would win in a boxing match this is what they had to say.
“In boxing, I'd get him,” Tim says. “That's his profession, but out here in these streets it's different. You've got things you can grab, and I can grab him in areas that, you know what I'm saying, are not comfortable.” Matt quips back before the room bursts into laughter.
Matt attributes his inspiration to his mom. “Without her, none of this would be possible. She molded us into what we are today. She's been a trooper since day one, raising eight of us as well as working two or three jobs, going to college and helping those in the community,” he says.
Their goal is to make Riverside Sports Academy a household name, leading to possible franchises starting around the city of Port Huron and spreading out as far as the dream can take them. “This is ground zero. We just want to build. Right now we're working on the floor and then we're going to put the walls up, then the upstairs, ya know what I'm saying? We’re trying to finish this home we're building,” says Matt.
‘It’s not just boxing’
Tim and Matt Browning with assistant boxing coach Carlos Salazar, center
Providing future jobs for their friends and family is just as important to them as training the body and being fit. Meet Carlos Salazar, assistant boxing coach at Riverside. Carlos says he met Matt and Tim about two years ago through a mutual friend. He himself used to train as a boxer, but eventually decided to take on the role of a trainer under the guidance of Matt. “Just because I'm no longer doing it (boxing), it doesn't mean I can't pass my knowledge in what I already know to the guys we have,” says Salazar.
Although he's only been assistant boxing coach since the academy opened, Salazar enjoys what he does, helping the people in his community get fit not only physically, but mentally as well. “It’s not just boxing. It’s helping them. Like, you know, mental health is a real big thing. We’re a real family-orientated environment, and hopefully we can push people to open up new businesses and stores and, you know, any kind of thing to put the city back up to where it used to be,” says Salazar.
Through all of life's lessons, Matt and Tim Browning have studied and beat the odds to achieve a success that few find in life, and continue to inspire others to reach new levels as well. They are true champions in their community.
You can learn more about Riverside Sports Academy by stopping in at their location in Port Huron at 1490 Dove Rd. or calling their phone number at (810) 660-1784.