£50,000 in asbestos works leave boxing club fighting for its future

ONE of Yorkshire’s oldest boxing clubs needs to raise £50,000 to prevent it becoming homeless.

Sheffield amateur boxing club St Vincent’s opened in the 1950s but its lease is up later this year as the area is being redeveloped.

Club officials have a new home to go to, thanks to Sheffield Council, but around £50,000 is needed to clear it of asbestos and carry out other renovation work.

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The club’s lease ends in mid-December but officials want to be in the former Crookesmoor Community Centre, by September or October.

Head coach Paul Watson, who has been involved with St Vincent’s for 35 years, is pinning his hopes on a funding application to Sport England.

The club is being supported in its application by the Amateur Boxing Association of England.

“If we don’t raise £50,000, I would not like to think what would happen. We will be in a lot of trouble,” said Mr Watson.

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“We can’t move in there without it (the money) as the asbestos has to come out.”

Mr Watson says the club does sterling work keeping young people occupied and out of trouble.

“It gets kids off the streets as there is not a lot for them to do. Boxing is a way of getting off the street and doing something positive.”

The new premises, a former Victorian school building, is about a 10-minute walk from the current gym above St Vincent’s Catholic Men’s Club on Solly Street, West Bar, where boxer-turned-trainer Brendan Ingle learned his trade.

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“The (new premises) is ideal,” added Mr Watson. “The council has been great; I have to take my hat off to them.”

He is hopeful that Sport England will make a decision about the funding application within the next week.

Ben Stewart, the club’s support officer for the Amateur Boxing Association of England, said it would be a “huge loss” to Sheffield if the club was unable to continue.