A new boxing club opened its doors at the weekend with the potential to changes lives and transform a community.
Hemlington Boxing Club is already attracting interest from across the area and taster sessions are bringing in new members every day.
The community interest company – supported by funding from the Government’s Safer Streets 4 initiative – has seen the derelict former Cleveland Juniors’ compound next to Hemlington Recreation Centre given a complete makeover.
The £15,000 grant has helped with the refurbishment of the building and the provision of new equipment. Some free sessions will also be laid on for local young people.
The club, run by amateur boxers John Waldon, John Waldon Snr and Dennis Lowe, is being supported by Recovery Connections, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) for Cleveland and Middlesbrough Council.
Founder John Waldon said: “When we asked local kids what they most wanted to see in the local area, the majority said a boxing gym.
“We were really concerned about the amount of crime and antisocial behaviour. We know from our own experience how a gym like this can give young people the discipline to keep them away from trouble and off the streets.
“By joining up, they’ll get fit and make new friends – and who knows, we might just produce a world champion. That would put this place on the map for all the right reasons.”
An open day gave local people the chance to visit the club, meet those behind the project and find out how to get involved.
Dream into reality
Cleveland PCC Steve Turner said: “My team and I have put a huge amount of effort into Hemlington alongside our partners over the last 18 months and have already seen major improvements in crime and ASB reports.
“That said, we always knew there was more to do and It’s fantastic to see this dream become a reality.
“There’s no doubt the Hemlington Boxing Club will be an important part of the local community for many years to come. It’s positive impact will be felt across the community.
“Boxing may not be for everyone but for many it helps develop discipline, focus, confidence and self-esteem – and those are great things for people of all ages.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke attended the gym for a quick sparring session ahead of the launch event
He said: “This is a brilliant example of community spirit, commitment, passion and hard work coming together to make a real difference.
“A gym like this has the potential to change an area for good, and we’ll do everything we can to support such a worthwhile venture.
“It’s for girls as well as boys, and people of all ages. It will create real role models for others to follow.”
To find out more, email Hemlington Boxing Club at [email protected]