Boxing club faces knockout blow

A COMMUNITY boxing club under threat of closure could put dozens of young people back on the streets with nothing to do, writes Glenn McMahon. Not-for-profit Stonebridge Boxing Club, in Winchelsea Road, Stonebridge, officially opened in January to provide

A COMMUNITY boxing club under threat of closure could put dozens of young people back on the streets with nothing to do, writes Glenn McMahon.

Not-for-profit Stonebridge Boxing Club, in Winchelsea Road, Stonebridge, officially opened in January to provide an affordable place to train and box.

But the low fees and lack of sponsors have left management struggling to cover the running costs.

Manager Aamir Ali said: "We're only charging the kids �2. We've done this for the community, but �2 isn't going to pay the rent. No-one gets paid here."

Local boy and Olympic gold medallist Audley Harrison has got behind the campaign, visiting the club last month to help raise its profile.

But time is running out after landlord, Hillside Housing Association, gave them two months to get the funding they need.

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Mr Ali said: "Hillside has been very lenient with us because they recognise what we are doing, but there must be plenty of businesses in the area that could help us."

The club gets charity status in two weeks and hopes this will help secure funding. Councillor Zaffar Van Kalwala said: "It would be a great loss to the community and take away a good activity for young people and they would be back to square one with nothing to do."

Mateusz Onyszko, 15, of Dowland Street, Kilburn, who trains at the club agreed saying: "If I wasn't doing this I would be playing outside or sat at home. It's really important that the club stays open."

And Ilyas Ahmed, 15, of Wesley Avenue, Park Royal, said: "They're really good here; they really get in your head. I would like to see this place stay open."

But it is not just young people who enjoy the club.

Dennis Ellington, 52, of Crownhill Road, Harlesden, said: "It's a brilliant place. People are not showing off here and don't worry about a bit of sweat. It's proper but not expensive."

Respected coach Sharon Bennett, who is credited with installing a disciplined no-nonsense ethic at the club, said: "We're helping do the council's job getting the kids off the streets.

"When I was growing up there was nobody to help so I want to give the kids some encouragement."

Businesses interested in sponsoring the club or Qualified gym instructors interested in renting space should call Aamir Ali on 07951 425 804.

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