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Building a better bag

Featured Article: San Mateo Daily Journal

Floyd Mayweather's Custom Grodex Boxing Bag

Sometimes doing it yourself is the best way to success.

That’s the realization Eden Leznik and his father, Alexander, came to when they decided to open Grodex: hand-crafted, all-leather punching bags out of their shop in San Carlos. After a couple of failed attempts to work with other manufacturers, the two decided to strike out on their own.

It appears to be paying off.

“In the last four months, we’ve sold as many punching bags as we did the last three years,” said Leznik, 22, a 2016 Aragon graduate and amateur boxer, who is working toward his degree in business analytics at San Jose State University.

Grodex is truly a two-man operation: father and son. Alexander Leznik, who also owner of Arts Wood Cabinetry in San Carlos, and Eden Leznik are Grodex’s only two employees. They design and sew every inch of their custom bags — from the heavy-duty Italian leather, to the shape and the rings used for the harness as well as the holding mechanisms to hang bags or attach them to walls.

Leznik credits his father’s business acumen for getting Grodex off the ground. Alexander Leznik is a two-time immigrant who was born in Ukraine, moving first to Israel before bringing his family to the United States when Eden was a child. Alexander Leznik has owned and operated his own business in both countries.

“He had to restart life twice. He’s owned businesses in both countries (Israel and United States). I’m very proud of my dad,” Eden Leznik said. “He makes beautiful cabinetry. He’s a man of many crafts. He can work with metal, he can work with wood.”

With that kind of pedigree behind him, Leznik decided to start Grodex in 2017. What makes Grodex bags different from your run-of-the-mill heavy bags are their construction and the amount of detail that goes into building a bag. Everything has a reason behind it — from the colors (brown hides dirt better) to the hanging mechanism. Using a spring and ball-bearing design, the hanging bags absorb punches really well, but will also give feedback if the punches are thrown incorrectly.

“It’ll start the spin,” Leznik said.

The idea to build a better bag first came when Leznik took up boxing at 10 years old. He father would watch his workouts and thought he could design heavy bags to accommodate work on different punching techniques.

“Ever since I was little, my dad would come and watch me box,” Leznik said. “He would always make equipment for me. Making punching bags with certain angles so they would target certain muscle groups and certain types of punches.

“As I grew in my boxing career, so did my dad’s vision for equipment. … My dad has so many [ideas] in his head.”

Need to work on uppercuts? There is a bag for that. Want the bag to respond in a certain way? There is a bag for that. Double-end bags, traditional bags, bags that simulate a fighter with his guard up, wall bags. If a boxer needs a specific style or shape, Grodex has one for them in their line of 50 offerings.

“Our bags are special — from the shapes, to the filling, to the holding mechanism,” Leznik said.

There are several differences between a Grodex bag and others products, two of which are the different shapes and sizes, as well as the craftsmanship. Most other heavy bags are simple cylinder shapes — the ones that have been used in boxing gyms for more than a century.

But biggest difference? Durability.

In the golden era of boxing, bags were built to last. But the modern-day examples have left a lot to be desired in their ability to withstand the abuse a punching bag absorbs.

“Back in the day, before globalization, all the bags hanging in the gym, they’re all leather and they all last. … In today’s world, everyone’s primary concern is finding the cheapest material, find the cheapest way to make a product — which is good basic business. But when we looked at [the punching bag market], we didn’t see good punching bags out there,” Leznik said. “I call them trash bags. … We’ve taken them apart and have found needles, rocks (in the filling). The sand they put in there, it falls to the bottom (of the bag) and turns into concrete.”

That being said, the price points are definitely a lot different. You could find a used heavy bag online for less than a hundred bucks. Grodex bags are significantly more expensive, but Leznik looks at them as an investment into your health.

“You buy it, it’s there for life. It’s an investment. It’s a premium product. It’s not for everybody,” Leznik said. “The most important thing is for the [user] to be healthy and happy. To enjoy working out.”

It is that quality and attention to detail that has built the Grodex brand in the world of boxing. A number of professionals — fighters and otherwise — have ordered Grodex bags to fill out their gyms.

“The third bag we made we delivered to (retired, 15-time world champion) Floyd Mayweather,” Leznik said. “Knock on wood, attention has been growing this year. One of the big positives I would say is this business has allowed me to stay around the sport I love.”