A fantastic afternoon and evening of boxing in the sun at St George Square Luton yesterday with six amateur boxing clubs from Luton and clubs from as far afield as Corby and Rayleigh in Essex taking part. They all put on a great show for both paying attendees and the small crowd of freeloaders that gathered in the sweltering heat in Luton’s “Mall”.
A great afternoon was had by all – the crowd went crazy at times and there were some fantastic fights – there were definitely a few future British and / or Commonwealth Champions on show – who knows there may even have been a future World Champ on the card.
Just another positive to buck the trend of bad news for Luton !
… is an amateur boxing club – established in 2008 – with a difference. It’s not just another boxing club – it’s a classy club – it has a winning ethos – a club where champions will come from (Steven and Niall pictured below have had 12 and 13 bouts respectively and each won 9 of those bouts). The guys that run the club are also the benefactors – they don’t get money from the council – the club underwent a major improvement 6 months ago where they took over the unit downstairs at the expense of the owners and coaches. Before Christmas 2012 the club occupied the upstairs of a fairly run down unit on a small industrial estate near Wardown Park. The occupants downstairs went bust and moved out leaving a derelict warehouse. Academy club owners took over the space, completely gutted it, moved the training ring downstairs and converted the upstairs space into a self contained training area complete with bags and a weight training area – they have spent thousands of pounds to bring the club up to a very high standard and now occupy both upstairs and downstairs. A second ring was donated and also installed downstairs.
Most of the members are kids but there are a handful of adults and ladies that train at the club – there is a dedicated ladies only session on Thursday nights where a small and dedicated number of ladies come to train. The coaches are keen for more ladies to train at the club. The self contained upstairs training area was set up during the refurbishment – ladies have their own secure well lit entrance, their own changing rooms and the training area can be shut off from the rest of the club to allow the ladies to train in the comfort of their own company. Doors can be opened up to allow mixed training but the coaches are keen to allow ladies to have their own space. I think this is truly unique and only one thing at the club that sets it apart from other amateur boxing clubs.
The Academy will be taking part in Luton’s Open Air Boxing Exhibition on 6th July this year and I’m guessing they will do well. Personally, I have loved boxing for as long I can remember, I’ve watched lots of boxing on TV but never been to a live fight. Steven and Niall – they are cousins so there’s always going to be a bit of rivalry there – did some sparring for me – coach Graham told them to take it easy with each other – I must have led a sheltered life because to my clouded eyes they looked like they were going for it – and the sounds the punches made sounded pretty full on to me. I’ll need to go again to educate myself more. Steven and Niall come down to the club five times a week – they live about 2 miles away and get there on their bikes – they are two very dedicated kids !
There were approximately 25 members training tonight – mainly kids but there were also 5 or 6 17/18 year olds and there was at least one senior member (I’m guessing he was about my age – I’m the wrong side of 40 – tonight was mixed carded fighters and seniors). Graham, said it was quiet tonight, there were more at the Saturday morning session. Halfway through the evening they split up – some went upstairs to do some technical training while the others stayed downstairs doing their 3 minute circuit, 60 second rest, again and again …….. and again. I was there nearly 2 hours and short of a couple of small breaks the 3 minute, 1 minute, 3 minute routine carried on – punctuated by the end of round bell. For me, the uninitiated, it felt like a full on training session – and these kids do this 5 times a week – on top of whatever sport they do at school. These kids are fit ! They take their training seriously but I also noticed they all have a lot of fun while doing the serious business of training.
The Academy Luton is fresh, it’s fun, it’s well established and run on passion and desire. If a champion doesn’t come out of this club in the foreseeable future I will be very, very surprised. Get along to the club, take your son, take your daughter, take your wife or husband. It’s a family club, run by and for families, with an underlying will to produce a champion and in the meantime have fun doing it.
The roars went up “Ali, boom-ba-yay” “Ali, boom-ba-yay” – the tension was building. The Rumble in the Jungle, Don King’s first boxing promotion, was to become the biggest, and most well known, event in boxing history. October 1974, Kinshasa, Zaire [Ali couldn’t fight in the USA because he’d lost his fight license as part of his punishment for not heeding the conscription call to the Army for Vietnam] so a venue outside of America was needed – King came up with the idea of “The Rumble in the Jungle” and what a success it turned out to be.
Ali took a pounding for most of the fight [an episode known as dope-a-rope] until his opponent, George Foreman, was exhausted – in the eighth round, Ali pounced and Foreman went down – Ali was the greatest boxer of his time – that’s what he told everyone, and arguably, he was. There’s something to be said for a man that predicts the round he will beat his opponent in, and then finishes him off in that round: A true sporting legend.