May 20 2013 Latest news:
Sukran Sahin, Senior Reporter
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
A boxing club that is keeping young people off the streets is under threat because of a major rent hike.
Dagenham Police and Community Boxing Club has been training young boxers from the age of 10 to 17, as well as adults, in the spacious gymnasium above The Mall shopping centre on the Heathway, Dagenham, for years.
It was founded in 1935 and it moved to the Heathway premises in the 1990s.
But now it is facing closure after the council’s managing agent Glennys re-evaluated the annual rent at £21,500 –seven times the amount the club is currently paying.
But its glorious past and present could soon be history as its 150 members, 20 coaches and a dedicated team of parent volunteers could lose their training space.
Club chairman Keith Mills said: “It’s something that’s looming over our head. It’s worrying.”
Yet the club’s benefits for the youngsters are indisputable. Keith said: “We had a young boy who was overweight. He trained and trained. It’s given him a real sense of belonging.
“Boxing is not about fighting. It’s about bringing young kids in a group. It’s character building.”
Coaches Johnny Durrell, Steve Jones and James Cole, who used to be national Amateur Boxing Association (ABA) champion, agree.
James said he would have been dragged into trouble as many of his friends have, if he had not discovered the club, aged seven.
He said: “If the club closes you will see more crime on the streets.”
Young boxer Michael Faulkner, 17, said: “I come here for the atmosphere. Everyone around here is mates, everyone looks after each other. Without the club, I might have fallen in with the wrong crowd.”
Essex ABA champion Louie Taylor, 12, also said he would probably end up “in the streets” if the club wasn’t there. “I probably would not be boxing. Everywhere else is too far away.”
Coach Dave Drew, 35, stressed that the cheap entry enabled the sport for many youngsters: “If it was dearer, a lot of kids would not come up here,” he said.
The council is reviewing the rent rise proposal.
This article features as part of the Post campaign Choose Your Future.