Monday 5th September saw the successful launch of the Withington Baths Junior Boxing Club, a free weekly event for local youngsters, funded by The Beautiful South Fund.

The debut event had a fantastic turnout, with dozens of young residents, and their families, in attendance. The club aims to help youngsters build their fitness, discipline, strength, and confidence with help from experienced local boxing coaches. 

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Boxing coach Phil O’Hare is a Southway tenant and one of the coaches involved in the new club. Phil used to train at the baths himself as a youngster, alongside Withington Baths Director, Dave Payne. Dave grew up living in a Southway property and is still a local resident, passionate about creating opportunities for young people in and around Withington. Dave recalls the positive impact that local boxing had on the community back then, and the importance of reviving that now.

"In the 1980s there was a boxing camp in Withington, here at the baths. I grew up around here and I know it kept a lot of kids on the straight and narrow. Loads of kids came, it was really popular. Sometimes boxing can have a bit of a bad name, but this is not boxing for fighting, this is boxing for training’s sake so it’s all about wellbeing of the mind, discipline, being able to take instruction, and having positive male role models. It did a lot of good in the ‘80s - keeping kids out of trouble around here - and we’re hoping we can recreate that."

Dave Payne, Director at Withington Baths

The event was also attended by local Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), Ben Scott and Southway’s own Leala Yewdall. Reports of ‘youth nuisance’ aren’t uncommon in the area around Withington Baths, so the boxing club serves as a great referral path to steer families towards.

Leala works very closely with local families and described the event as “brilliant” and commented that the successful turnout really demonstrated “the need for the community to get together, to have somewhere to go to do something, and feel safe in doing it”.

Thanks to Funding Officer, Roz Hampson, for supporting Withington Baths in applying for funding, and Leala for her hard work in getting it up and running.

The Withington Baths Junior Boxing club will continue every Monday from 4-5pm and is free of charge to attend.

To find out more about the Beautiful South Fund and apply for funding for your own community initiative, follow this link.