By Community Reporter Charlie Watts
Chris ‘Skemer’ Winters has at last found a new home for his Knowle West boxing club – after more than a year fighting to save it.
Jubilee Hall in Wedmore Vale is set be the club’s new home from 1 January, with Skemer having won the lease to the council-owned building this week.
Skemer – whose motto is “Always believe” – says he is “over the moon” to be getting the keys to the building, which will be a “safe haven” for local children.
“It’s somewhere for them to go where their parents know they’re safe,” he told The Knowledge.
“The kids love it now that they’ve all got a new gym because a load of them were devastated, thinking, ‘What are we going to do now?’”
Since 2012, the club has been on land in Tavistock Road owned by The Park. But last year, the organisation announced plans to sell the land, putting the future of the boxing club at risk.
Skemer tried unsuccessfully to find several other buildings in the area including at Inns Court and above Melvin Square shops.
He was given an extension until the end of this year to find a new home for the club which “keeps young people off the streets” and where he also runs anti-bullying classes.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees visited the club last November with assurances something would be done.
Following a meeting at City Hall on 16 November Skemer had the good news he could move into the building which was obtained under a council community asset transfer scheme.
He hoped to get the Jubilee Hall in August but was then told it would go to Adaptive Martial Arts (AMA).
The club will remain in its existing building until the end of this year, moving to its new location in the new year.
An opening event will be held in January (exact date to be confirmed), with professional boxers, including Skemer’s son Duane ‘The Gasman’ Winters, expected to be there as well as club president former world champion boxer Glen Catley.
Skemer has big plans for the club. He will offer classes in boxing, judo, Muay Thai, yoga, and is even hoping to start a mixed-gender boxing group.
He also hopes to open the building up during the day, working with people with disabilities and special educational needs, as well as 16-24 year olds who have been involved in crime.
And he will of course continue to offer free boxing lessons to children who are being bullied.