Wolverhampton Boxing Club is fighting back
Wolverhampton Boxing Club are coming back fighting after entering their 80th year of existence with a new way of thinking.
The fight factory has been in existence since May 1936 and first occupied its current Willenhall Road site in 1985,
Their original home on Thornley Street burned down to the ground, before they moved to Union Street and then onto site of the old Eastfield School.
Their fight apparel is one of only two organisations permitted to use the City of Wolverhampton crest - a request granted the year after they were formed - next to Wolves.
But it's been an uncertain period for the club since former president, secretary and treasurer John Thomas passed away last September.
The 77-year-old had served for 40 years and was regarded as their front of house. He's now immortalised in 'Tommo's Corner,' a tribute to him as you enter the gym.
They threw open their doors to the public for their birthday party, putting on a number of attractions. Members of the police and army joined the celebrations.
Open sparring, skipping competitions, a raffle and refreshments were enjoyed by a good turn-out of supporters, who watched the ribbon be cut on a 're-opening' at the start of the event.
A letter of support from Richie Woodhall - Olympic bronze, Commonwealth gold medallist and former WBC world super middleweight champion - was read out loud.
Treasurer Gary Bate, secretary George Langford and coaches Dennis Stephenson, George Murrin and Nick Griffiths have all been made trustees. Nick's dad George is a staple of the club.
Another coach, Marcus Ashman, has also been made matchmaker. He was in the corner as the first fighter from the club to be involved in a competitive bout for 18 months boxed recently.
Fernando Consiglio was the victor in a 47kg contest by unanimous decision and Bate doesn't expect that to be the last win the club enjoys this year.
He said: "I believe we will be a force to be reckoned with again, we've got some up-and-coming boxers and there's a bit of a buzz about the place again.
"We've put together a good team that will do the great heritage the club has justice. Certain things have been neglected, the interest had gone, but we're here to change a few things.
"Marcus is really coming on with his job, in the past we've had to pay for matchmakers and that's no way to go. What he's doing is massive for us and he's boxing mad.
"We'd never knock what 'Tommo' did for the club, but we are moving on now. We can't dwell on the past and he wouldn't want us to.
"He's given us the tools to work with and no one has the knowledge that he had. Now we need to be bringing champions out of here. Everyone needs to be pushing themselves."
Now it's down to business with their 11 carded fighters, a number which they hope will swell to 20 before the year is out.
Up to 45 members are in the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, with the juniors training from 6pm-7pm before the seniors work out until 8.30pm.
Sparring is on Wednesday nights, with other clubs such as Dudley's Brooklands and Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter. They either travel to or host the sessions.
Advanced classes are held on Thursday nights and Saturday mornings for the carded fighters. All pay just £3 each time.
They train in an Olympic-sized ring that was donated by multi-world champion Amir Khan, who sent it to the Black Country after using it to train for the 2004 Games in Athens.
Wolverhampton BC's facilities have not matched up to their accomplishments, in recent times, but they've produced top-class amateurs in the past.
Olympians Roy Addison and Tony Wilson, who later became Wolverhampton's last British champion, both started out with them.
They were both ABA champions as was Bobby Blower, who was a formidable unpaid prospect in the 1960s before hanging up the gloves at the age of just 18.
Blower won schoolboy, junior and then senior ABA titles, beating future world champions Alan Minter and John Conteh on the way. He put Conteh down twice before knocking him out in 1968.
It's been nearly two years since the club won any title in a national competition. Clayton Bricknell claimed a West Midlands title in the 2014 England Senior Development competition.
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