TKO Barking Amateur Boxing Club reopens after finding a new home
PUBLISHED: 11:11 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:11 12 February 2019
A boxing club that lost its premises last year has proved it was down but not out after finding a new home.
TKO Barking Amateur Boxing Club held its first training session at Abbey Leisure Centre in Bobby Moore Way, Barking on Monday.
Club founder, Johnny Eames, speaking from the ring to a crowd of about 80 well-wishers and members, said: “Everyone pulled together. Before we had nothing and now we have everything.
“I’m sure the amateur club will be very successful here as well as the professionals.”
The club was based in the old Abbey Sports Centre but when staff arrived last October they found the locks changed and a sign saying a lease agreement with lessee the Hope Family Trust had ended.
As a result the club lost almost half its numbers going from about 150 members to 60.
But since then its bosses struck a deal with leisure management firm Everyone Active to provide them with gym space and a new lease of life.
Hasan Romel, Everyone Active contract manager, said: “We’re really pleased to be able to work alongside the club and help with the work they do in the community.
“We are looking forward to seeing what the club achieves in the future.”
Paul Peppard, club treasurer, said: “Everyone Active have been brilliant. They have gone out of their way to accommodate us.”
Former professional boxer Kevin Mitchell – who held British and Commonwealth super-featherweight titles between 2006 and 2009 – welcomed the reopening.
“It’s good to see them bouncing back. It’s rough with stabbings and murders at the moment. But if these kids can channel their energy they can become superstars,” he said.
Member Justin Hasukaj said he was feeling a bit rusty not having trained after the club became homeless but was excited to see it back up and running.
“It’s inspired me to become a champion,” the 12-year-old said.
But the club’s managers had to battle to get ready in time for the opening night having to buy a new ring and punch bags.
TKO’s chairman Bill Phillips, who has been in the game for 50 years, said: “It’s been hard work for Johnny and the team. But TKO is going to be massive.”
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