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Legendary All Stars Boxing Gym hosting star-studded concert in desperate bid to raise £30,000

PUBLISHED: 16:14 14 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:39 17 December 2018

Muf Akay with boxers Ahley Theophane and Desharn Fearon. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Muf Akay with boxers Ahley Theophane and Desharn Fearon. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Jonathan Goldberg

A star-studded concert will take place to help a world-famous Harrow Road boxing club that is on the ropes after being hit with a £50,000 legal bill.

Ahley Theophane and Desharn Fearon. Picture: Jonathan GoldbergAhley Theophane and Desharn Fearon. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

All Stars Boxing Gym has been a vital part of the community for 45 years, helping keep thousands of kids off the street and teach them discipline and respect.

The likes of Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, David Haye, Frank Bruno and Nigel Benn have all trained at the Queen’s Park centre – a registered charity.

But after bosses took their landlord to court for not carrying out the essential repairs it had been ordered to, they ended up being told by a judge to pay the owner’s legal costs – an eye-watering £50,000.

Manager Muf Akay, who took over the running of the club from his father Isola in 2013, has already raised £20,000 but is now hoping to raise another £30,000 by the end of the month to avoid the unthinkable – having to close.

The founder of All Stars Boxing Club Isola Akay MBE. Picture: Jonathan GoldbergThe founder of All Stars Boxing Club Isola Akay MBE. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

And he’s been given a big boost after calling on celebrity members to help out. On Sunday Chrissie Hynde, Beverley Knight, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Feeling and Ed Harcourt will perform from a boxing ring in the gym.

Years of legal wrangling began in 2012 when the landlord was ordered to give the gym a new 15-year lease and carry out essential repairs. And prior to that another fundraiser to cover rent arrears saw Razorlight play in the club, as singer Johnny Borrell trained there.

The repair work is now being done, but the gym has been hit with the massive bill.

“It’s terrible,” said Muf. “We wouldn’t have even been in court if the work had been done.

Muf Akay (centre) with boxers Desharn Fearon, Ahley Theophane, Shaquanne Lindsay and Amani Bruce. Picture: Jonathan GoldbergMuf Akay (centre) with boxers Desharn Fearon, Ahley Theophane, Shaquanne Lindsay and Amani Bruce. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

“For over 45 years we have been a beacon in the community, providing a haven for the disadvantaged youth, and we have helped turn around the lives of thousands of kids. We’ve been at the forefront of fighting against gangs, knife crime, social disorder and exclusion.”

The gym was launched in 1974 because Muf’s late older brother Tee Jay, a British cruiserweight champion, encountered racism at the local boxing clubs.

Muf explained: “When he started boxing he went to the clubs and he was allowed to go, but not his friends. They said they didn’t want too many black kids.

“So my dad started a club in the corridor of our council flats, on the sixth floor. It was on the corner of Chippenham Road and Harrow Road – it’s been demolished now.

“Then the council heard about this man training 20 kids in a corridor and offered him a space at Mulberry Youth Centre, and he was there for 10 years. Then he moved to the derelict church where we are now.

“Thirty-five years ago my dad raised £150,000 to refurbish it.”

Ghanian born Isola, a former West African champion, was made an MBE in 2000 and carried the Olympic torch in 2012.

The club has more than 1,000 members and runs an amateur boxing “knock out circuit” for anybody who wants to train. There are also female only, kickboxing and Muay Thai classes.

“The amount of kids we helped stay away from a life of crime is huge,” Muf added. “Some have been in trouble with the police. My father used to go to the police stations and get kids out.

“We mentor them. If we were not around there would definitely be a lot more kids hanging around the streets with nothing to do and there would be more gang violence.”

The landlord could not be reached for comment.

Donate to the gym, or buy tickets for the concert here.

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