Boxing club is fighting fit in new home


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BOXING CLEVER: Coach Ben Geyser with members at Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club (Picture: DSM head of visual Paul Collins)

Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club is going from strength to strength as it celebrates its first anniversary in its new gym.

It was founded in 2003 but used different places to train before finding a permanent home at the Weymouth Avenue Pavilion courtesy of Dorchester Town Council and the county town’s cricket club.

With its own fundraising efforts plus grants – including Section 106 money contributed by housing developers and a town council grant – the club has converted unused rooms into a state of the art gym complete with boxing ring, punch bags and training equipment.

Now dozens of boxers aged nine to 40 train nearly every weeknight under the watchful eye of head coach Ben Geyser and assistants John Manley and Anthony Cooper.

Ben, who won the BBC National Sports Personality Unsung Hero Award in 2008, said: “It’s great to have our own gym here.

“We get people coming from Dorchester and the surrounding villages and towns such as Bridport, and they seem to really enjoy it.

“We have boys and girls who are members, and siblings often follow each other into the club. There’s a real family atmosphere.”

Ben, who lives in Weymouth, added: “We train people properly. I am very against the new white collar boxing, which doesn’t give people enough time to train which means they go into the ring unprepared and at more risk.”

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COACH: Ben Geyser runs Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club (Picture: DSM head of visual Paul Collins)

The club raised £25,000 while £31,000 came from Section 106 contributions made by developers and housebuilders in the area – mainly from Poundbury – for community projects and infrastructure.

The former West Dorset District Council also granted £5,000 from leisure development fund to help complete the project, and £15,000 was raised through an application to Sport England’s Community Grants Fund.

The funding raised enabled the club to work with Dorchester Town Council to convert two redundant changing rooms within the footprint of Weymouth Avenue Recreation Pavilion building into a large open space gym area with its own toilets and other facilities.

Dorchester Cricket Club took on the management of the site from the town council with the boxing club paying an annual rent for its space.

As a registered charity, Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club is continuing to raise money to help pay for trips to tournaments, gloves and equipment.

Many of its members are young people.

Weymouth College student Connor Kirk, 18, of Poundbury, has won his first two fights.

Connor, who has been a member for seven years, said: “The training element really helps with fitness and self-discipline.

“It is especially helpful for me to keep in shape as I hope to join the Parachute Regiment.

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KNOCKOUT: Young fighter Connor Kirk trains at Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club

“There are people of all ages and everyone helps eachother. You don’t have to compete and can just come along for fitness and the social side.

“I would encourage anyone to try it out.”

Assistant coach John Manley boxed from the age of nine to 28, under Ben and Alf Larkin in Weymouth and Dorchester. He now brings his son Frankie, 13, and daughter Rosie, 10, along to the club.

Fellow assistant coach Anthony’s children Mary-Anne and Tyrese – the club’s youngest member at nine – are also part of the next generation.

Anthony, of Dorchester, said: “It’s brilliant here.

“It keeps the kids active and is better than computer games. It helps keep young people off the streets, and doing something positive.”

Both John and Anthony are due to take ABA Coaches Courses with the club.

All the coaches and supporters are volunteers, including Ben’s wife Penny who is the club secretary.

She said: “The club really makes a difference. We’ve had testimonials from schools saying how children’s behaviour, attitude and attention has improved.

“Parents also ask us what we do as their children are more confident and have more purpose, and are worn out when they get home!”

Penny added: “We’re very grateful for everyone’s support, especially Adrian Stuart from the town council.

“Anyone who wants to join the club or wants to find out more is very welcome to get in touch or pop down on a week night.”

Andy Galpin, who is implementation team leader at the Dorset Council, said: “Housing provides many more benefits than simply giving people somewhere to live.

“Contributions from housebuilders support local infrastructure and communities activities, such as Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club.

“Our Opening Doors programme aims to encourage the construction of more houses and show just how important new developments are for the vitality of our communities.”

The club is open from 6pm to about 9pm on weeknights. Visit the website at www or call 01305 832249 or email via the website for more details.

Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club is the second the series of Opening Doors case studies to show how important housing is for local communities.

The campaign hopes its case studies will dispel some common misconceptions about infrastructure in relation to housing developments which continue to persist in some quarters when, in fact, health, education, roads, the environment and transport links are placed squarely at the centre of the council’s planning considerations.

Local authorities have strict policies about the provision of important assets such as new roads, GP surgeries, health centres, play areas, cycleways, affordable housing, schools and transport links.

Perhaps less well known are the planning contributions developers and housebuilders make to the community at the insistence of councils.

In the past, a legal document called a Section 106 agreement was used, more recently this is achieved through a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contribution.

In practice this often means that as well as new infrastructure on a development itself there will be wider benefits for a town or area too.

For example, financial contributions from developers at the Poundbury development in Dorchester have helped several schemes in the county town over recent years, and will continue to do so.

The new Dorchester Sports Centre was built in 2011-12 with a financial contribution from the first phase of the Poundbury development, and more recently money has been allocated to the £13 million project to improve and expand Dorset County Museum.

Beneficiaries have also included the Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum and Dorchester Town Community Football Club as well as Dorchester Amateur Boxing Club.

A panel of councillors from Dorchester and surrounding villages allocates the Section 106 funding.