Campaign grows in support of gym

SHOWBUSINESS celebrities and leading boxing figures are backing West Ham Boys Club in their campaign against a plan to move them out of their famous gymnasium situated at the rear of Plaistow s Black Lion pub - and build flats on the site. The gym, the Ha

SHOWBUSINESS celebrities and leading boxing figures are backing West Ham Boys Club in their campaign against a plan to move them out of their famous gymnasium situated at the rear of Plaistow's Black Lion pub - and build flats on the site.

The gym, the Hammers' home for over 80 years, has become one of the best known landmarks on the London boxing scene, developing hundreds of national champions, including Terry Spinks, who went on to win an Olympic gold in Melbourne in 1956.

Ex-boxer and 'London's Burning' TV actor Glen Murphy MBE is adding his name to the lengthy list of people backing the club he first attended as a nine-year-old.

"I am appalled to hear the news that the club is to close. West Ham Boys Club put me on the right track and I attribute it to my success in working in my given industry for nearly 30 years, including playing ex-boxer George Green in LWT'S London's Burning for 15 years," he said.


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"I was honoured to receive an award from Her Majesty the Queen in 2007, and one of the publicity headlines read 'The Boy from West Ham meets the Queen.'

"West Ham BC was a big part of my upbringing and will be for many others to come, if given the chance. It must not shut."

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Former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan highlighted the protests in his column in the Daily Mirror on Saturday and it will also be featured on Steve Bunce's boxing hour programme screened on Setanta TV on Thursday night.

British champion Kevin Mitchell and brother Vinny were both West Ham members during their amateur days when they claimed national title triumphs - Kevin was ABA champion and his brother a National Boys Clubs' award winner.

"I have great memories of the West Ham gym from my own amateur days - it's part of boxing history - how can they demolish it?" fumed Kevin, who has won the British featherweight title and is recognised as the number one challenger for the WBO world super-featherweight crown, in an unbeaten pro campaign.

Hammers' secretary, Lianne Jameson, leads the fight and said: "The support has been tremendous, we have started an online petition and so far are approaching one thousand names.

"It would be nice if people took the time to sign this at http://www.gopetition.co. uk/petitions/save-west-ham-boys-club.html," added the club official.

"We have until June 17 to get objections to the council, and the best place to send them to is Debbie Napier, Planning Officer, Development Control, Newham Dockside, 1st Floor, West Wing, Dockside Road, London, E16 2QU or send an email to: debbie.napier@newham.gov.uk

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