Amateur clubs are saving Britain from trouble

I used to box when I was a teenager. Improving in every training session, getting fitter with every passing week, and earning my turn on the pads with one of the coaches was addictive. My friends chipped in to buy our own gloves, two pairs, and we used to practice on each other in a garden every day. Looking back, it was not the most sensible thing without parental supervision, but we couldn’t shift this fascination of seeing who was top dog. We lived in an area with little to do for a kid, and if it wasn’t for this sport and fitness, I’m not sure what path we would have all taken. My instincts suggest it wouldn’t have been the right one.

“Once you get into it, it is really hard to get out of. It’s in my blood.”  –  Stuart Gill, Golden Ring head coach

When I travelled to Golden Ring Amateur Boxing Club in Southampton, and walked in the gym to see 20 or so teenagers wrapping their hands and hitting the bag, vivid memories of my years as a teenager came flooding back. That loud thud as a glove landed on a pad almost made me want to get changed and get involved myself. If it was a session with some of the older guys, I think I probably would have.

I stood by the side with all the parents and watched these extremely focused children and teenagers train. The head coach who I came to meet, Stuart Gill, greeted me with just as much enthusiasm as these youngsters were displaying with the gloves on. He told me his story, from fighting for Southampton ABC 68 times, to winning four combined service titles while in the Navy, to then becoming BBC Radio 5 Live‘s Coach of the Year. It’s been his life for over 40 years.

“We’ve trained plenty of champions here between us, and it’s the only thing I’m good at,” he told me. “When I came out the Navy, and I had to give up through injury, that’s when I decided to do coaching. Once you get into it, it’s hard to get out of. It’s in my blood.”

Header image credit: Mopictures on Flickr