A major refurbishment project has got underway to modernise a Hull boxing gym that played an integral role in Luke Campbell’s Olympic success.
With more than 400 members – a quarter of them female – St Paul’s Boxing Academy is the largest boxing gym outside London and is the oldest club in Hull, having started in 1948.
But over recent years, its building on North Church Side, Hull City Centre, has fallen into disrepair with a leaking roof, crumbling false ceiling and outdated and inadequate changing facilities.
The floor is dangerously slippery after years of use, the windows are no longer fit for purpose and the lighting and heating systems are faulty.
Earlier this month, Hull construction firm Houlton started work on replacing the roof and installing a disabled lift as part of a wider contract with Hull City Council that also includes reroofing the nearby Hepworth Arcade.
At the same time, St Paul’s – a charitable incorporated organisation – entered into a contract with Houlton to carry out a £500,000 internal refurbishment, but the club still needs to raise around £200,000 to complete the work and is appealing to businesses and local people to help them reach that target.
Head coach Mike Bromby said that while St Paul’s produces world-class boxing talent, the club’s biggest impact is on the wider local community.
“At St Paul’s, our aim is to produce champions in life, not just in the ring,” he said.
“Only around 10 per cent of our members are licenced boxers. Everyone else trains for a variety of different reasons such as health, fitness, weight management or building mental resilience.
“What St Paul’s has the ability to do is draw from the most disadvantaged areas of Hull and give young people direction, hope, confidence, and a sense of belonging and family.
“Over the years the gym has helped countless young people who have gone on from a challenging and disruptive start to lead successful, meaningful lives.
“This is a source of immense pride for everyone at St Paul’s, and equals that of training world champions.”
The much-needed refurbishment work will completely modernise the club and includes new toilet and changing facilities, new flooring, doors, a new kitchen, and new heating, ventilation, lighting, and security systems.
It is due to be completed in September providing all the money needed to pay for the work can be raised.
St Paul’s has already raised nearly £300,000 from a range of local companies, individuals and grants, including £105,000 from funding body Sport England.
Hull City Council’s pledge to reroof the gym and install the disabled lift has also been a big boost for the club.
Andrew Horncastle MBE, a trustee of St Paul’s and the current High Sheriff of the East Riding of Yorkshire, said a lot of businesses and individuals have generously supported the club in raising funds, but there was still a lot more to do.
He said: “We’ve had a lot of support from local businesses, organisations and individuals, and big thanks must go to Hull City Council for agreeing to reroof the gym for us. It is extremely generous.
“Since I have been involved with the club, I have realised what a tremendous job everyone there does in teaching young people, no matter what their background, the life skills they need to succeed. It is an inspirational place and one we need to support and maintain for decades ahead.
“That is why it is essential we raise the funds needed to complete the refurbishment work, and we’re appealing to individuals, businesses and trusts across the region to back St Paul’s and the essential work it does.”
Councillor Daren Hale, Hull City Council’s portfolio holder for economic investment, regeneration, planning, land and property, said: “St Paul’s Boxing Club has made a huge difference to the lives of so many of the city’s young people.
“Of course, we know about the sporting glory that Luke Campbell and others went on to achieve, but even more important is the positive influence the club and its coaches and volunteers gave made on the lives of countless youngsters who may otherwise have chosen the wrong path.
“Hull City Council is very proud to have helped to secure the future of such a fantastic institution.”
To find out more about St Paul’s Boxing Academy and the refurbishment work, go to http://www.stpaulsboxing.co.uk/the-next-chapter/
To raise funds or donate to St Paul’s go to https://www.justgiving.com/stpaulsboxing
If you’re a business and would like to support the club, please get in touch.