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Barking boxing club bosses search for a new home after getting locked out of old sports centre

PUBLISHED: 07:00 31 October 2018

Members of the TKO Amateur Boxing Club in Barking are protesting over the closure of their club building by the council.

Members of the TKO Amateur Boxing Club in Barking are protesting over the closure of their club building by the council.

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A boxing club’s managers are searching for a new home after getting locked out of their premises.

Members of the TKO Amateur Boxing Club in Barking are protesting over the closure of their club building by the council. Club management members Rashid Ahmed, Paul Peppard, John Eames, Mark Rolfe and Wes PatemanMembers of the TKO Amateur Boxing Club in Barking are protesting over the closure of their club building by the council. Club management members Rashid Ahmed, Paul Peppard, John Eames, Mark Rolfe and Wes Pateman

TKO Amateur Boxing Club was based in the old Abbey Sports Centre, Barking, but when staff arrived last week they found the locks changed and a sign saying Barking and Dagenham Council had ended a lease agreement with lessee the Hope Family Trust.

TKO founder, Johnny Eames, said: “We’ve got 150 registered members from a vulnerable area. Keeping these kids off the streets is a great thing.”

Bobbi Rolfe, 12, said: “I’m upset because that’s where we go. [The staff] are like family to us. The whole point of the club is to keep youngsters off the streets, to avoid knife crime.”

Five-year-old Brennan Pateman, who trained with his two brothers at the club, urged the council: “Please can you open it?”

Members of the TKO Amateur Boxing Club in Barking are protesting over the closure of their club building by the council.Members of the TKO Amateur Boxing Club in Barking are protesting over the closure of their club building by the council.

Mum Carly Lambert added: “It’s ridiculous. These youngsters have got nothing. I would rather they were off the streets. [The club] was keeping them busy.”

On Tuesday almost 2,300 people had signed a petition set up by club managers urging the council to either reopen the Axe Street centre or rehouse them.

Since closing, staff have been unable to access the club’s equipment.

Its secretary, Paul Peppard, said it was doubtful whether some youngsters would take part in a tournament in Leyton on November 10 which they had been training for.

“If they can’t train, they can’t box. Lack of preparation limits their chances of success. We’ll have to withdraw them if they can’t get ready,” he said.

According to the club, TKO had an unwritten agreement with the charity, Hope Family Trust – which ran Barking Food Bank from the centre – saying that its members could use part of the building for free.

Hope Family Trust did not respond to approaches for a comment.

Developers resubmitted an application in April to transform the site into 170 homes, along with a cinema and office space.

Plans include building 87 one-bedroom flats, 79 two-bedroom flats and four three-bedroom flats, with the tallest part of the building being 13 stories high.

Barking and Dagenham Council declined to comment.

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