Support Through Sport UK's Helen Barratt spoke to Alan Keast, Managing Director, and Nicky Sutherland, Club Administrator, at Tamworth Amateur Boxing Club ...
Thanks for talking to us, Nicky and Alan, we're keen to hear all about Tamworth Amateur Boxing Club. And so first, some basics. Who is your club for? And how many members do you have?
The club was formed in 1969 to simply deliver boxing sessions to boys. The club ran these sessions for two nights each week, however the demand for the sessions was such that the club grew with its membership. The increased knowledge and understanding of what we were able to provide to these youngsters, and the demand for more sessions, led to the club needing to move premises many times. Our club is now fully inclusive and welcomes all, regardless of age, ability / disability, race, economic status and physical fitness. We offer sessions for everyone: under 10s, juniors, adults, ladies, personal training and private sessions tailored to a person’s needs. We offer full inclusion so that people of all abilities are able to train and learn together. If, however, we have people who would rather not train in the main sessions, we have the provision to offer alternative training too.
What sort of training can you get at the club?
We offer something for everyone, from children and adults who just want to get / keep fit, to children and adults (including ladies) who want to box. The training sessions are designed to enable our members to reach the peak of physical fitness and encompass all aspects of boxing to do this. From sprints to circuits, from skipping to using hula hoops, our training sessions are constantly evolving, thanks to the experience and commitment of our dedicated coaches. We provide exercise that uses the whole body and will improve strength and fitness. Our members consider themselves a team and this team is always welcoming of new members.
The club became involved with local schools when realising that the work, discipline and dedication required to do boxing has a positive effect on the mindset of youngsters. As an alternative education provision, the club has so far delivered over 350 qualifications to students who would otherwise not have achieved after becoming disengaged with mainstream education. We have also recently pioneered and developed a primary school project targeting 6–11 year olds, to challenge the behavioural issues of younger children through physical activity. We have also been working, weekly, with Two Rivers Special Needs School since 2009. During this time we have gained great experience in dealing with a wide range of people with disabilities.
Do all your members have to fight?
No. Our members will take away the physical and mental benefits of our training sessions whether they want to box or not. We never push, or force, people to box - however we will give support and encouragement to those who do want to.
Does the club have any famous boxers, or any rising stars, to keep a look out for?
We recently moved to a new venue and were lucky enough to have Olympic Gold Medallist, Luke Campbell, not only open the gym for us, but also spend the day at the gym meeting our members, having photos taken with the adults and children from local schools, and even taking part in a pads session in the ring with our Head Coach, England Coach Alan Keast. Our very own rising star, Ryan Hatton, is currently Junior National Champion (2012), having also been National Schoolboy Champion 2011, 3 Nations Gold Medallist 2011 and 3 Nations Gold Medallist 2012. He won this year's title when he boxed in the National Association for Young People competition and won gold when he boxed for England against Ireland.
What sort of boost do you think the Olympics gave to boxing?
We believe the Olympics raised the profile of boxing and raised awareness across the nation about the discipline and skill involved in the sport. Gold medallist Nicola Adams certainly helped inspire more girls and young women toget involved in boxing - this has been evidenced by the fact that we have had to increase the number of ladies' sessions we deliver.
How much does it cost to do boxing? Would you need to have your own gloves to get started?
All we ask is that you turn up in either shorts or trackies and a T-shirt and bring a bottle of water. Training equipment, including boxing gloves, is provided. Session costs vary depending on age and employment status and are kept to a minimum as we fully understand times are economically tough.
What do you think the benefits of boxing are?
As well as the obvious health benefits of improved fitness, you will gain self-confidence as you acquire the skills and techniques of a sport that requires discipline, commitment to training and dedication to the club and other members. You will develop new and lasting friendships and face physical challenges alongside your new-found friends.
What sorts of skill do you need to box? And do you need to be fit?
If you want to box then all the skill you need will be taught and developed until you are ready to step into the ring. A good stance and guard, shots, defences and self-belief all play an important part in the sport of boxing and, yes, you need to be fit to box. However, you can achieve all of this by attending our sessions.
Isn't boxing a bit dangerous? If I have a go, am I going to end up with a black eye?!
Boxing doesn’t even feature in the top 10 most dangerous sports; in fact cheerleading is actually the most dangerous! Tamworth Amateur Boxing Club is an affiliated member of the Amateur Boxing Association - this means we are required to follow specific safety regulations which keeps injuries to a minimum. All our boxers have to wear head guards and gum shields. Of course with any physical activity there is a risk of injury, so there is a possibility that you may get hurt, but it is unlikely to be serious!
And finally, what one piece of advice would you give to anyone just starting out?
Go to a registered ABA club. Keep an open mind, set small goals, listen to your coach and, finally, keep your guard up! :)
Club: Tamworth Amateur Boxing Club / The CornerPost Gym
Brief Description: Fully functional boxing club, fitness facility and education centre.