A successful County Durham community boxing club is aiming to keep punching above its weight after winning funding from a regional employer for a new ring and new training equipment.
Based at the Brandon and Carside Youth and Community Centre, Brandon Boxing Club was set up in 2013 with a view to giving anyone from around the region the chance to get fit and learn new boxing skills, regardless of age, sex or disability.
The club offers six training sessions every week which are run by its ten qualified coaches and it has grown to now have more than 100 people accessing its facilities, which has lead to pressure being put on the resources it currently has available.
But now, thanks to a £5,000 grant from the Durham-headquartered Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund for support, the club has been able to buy in a second training ring which will ensure everyone to access the facilities they need to improve their boxing skills.
The grant has also allowed the Club to purchase ten new pairs of sparring gloves, ten headguards, new punchbags and new floor mats which will provide a better surface for members to train on.
While the accent is predominantly on maximising participation, Brandon Boxing Club has a number of members who have boxed nationally and internationally, including Megan Bainbridge, a Year Eight student at North Durham Academy.
Megan is ranked as British number one in her class, recently won her first national title at the National Boxing School Championships and has just been selected to represent England in the Four Nations tournament.
The Club’s members mostly hail from the surrounding villages, but its growing reputation is also bringing in boxers from right across County Durham.
Alex Oliver, founder and head coach at Brandon Boxing Club, says: “The ethos of the club is that whoever you are and whatever experience you have, you’ll get the chance to train and develop new skills in a positive and encouraging atmosphere, and our success has very much come from this approach.
“Boxing is about much more than ring skills – we work just as hard on developing our young members’ fitness, confidence and character, and we’ve seen a huge difference in the way in which many of them have developed as people.
“The funding we’ve received from the Banks Group is making an unbelievable difference to the work we’re able to do – we’ve got all the facilities we need to have up to 40 people training in the gym at any one time, and doubling the amount of ring space that we can offer will have a real impact on the speed at which our boxers can develop and refine their skills.”
Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The success that Brandon Boxing Club has enjoyed in just a few short years is extremely impressive, and we hope the support we’ve provided will further enhance the excellent work they’re doing with young people across local communities.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.