Boxing Club should stay “in heart of community”

 

A popular boxing club which has been running in Knowle West for six years has failed to raise £300,000 to buy the land it is on – and will now have to move elsewhere.

The Park Knowle Boxing Club in Tavistock Road is open every week night in term time with classes for adults and children from eight upwards, as well as running holiday activities.

It is situated on land owned by The Park, based in Daventry Road, on the edge of the community centre’s grounds.  The Park now needs to sell the land in order to keep the centre going.

The boxing club is run by Chris Winters, known as Skemer, who is passionate about what they do and has put an appeal out on Facebook for any donations to help him buy the land.

The club was first started by 2nd Chance based at The Park, which has a mission to “use sport to inspire change” and was handed over to Skemer to run for the community a few years ago.

In an area with a strong heritage in boxing, the club has grown from strength to strength and now gets around 94 people a week through its doors.

Former boxer Skemer (48) who has lived in the area since he was 15 says: “It’s all about keeping the kids off the streets so they have somewhere to go. It gives them confidence, self-belief and that there’s a future in life. I don’t want to go out of Knowle West, it’s not fair on the kids.

“I need the club to keep going because it’s the heart of the community, since I’ve been here there’s been no drug dealing or trouble from kids on this street.”

Skemer is running an anti bullying campaign on Sundays for free for young people who have been bullied “at school, on social media or on the streets” and says they can come and learn to box or and even “sit and talk”.

He says if he has to move he needs somewhere permanent in the area to keep his boxing ring and equipment and where he can retain his independence.

On the deadline of 1 August he told The Knowledge: “A friend has offered to buy it for £200,000 but it’s not enough…I’m in limbo now until I find a place.”

In a statement The Park said: “…We have had some initial conversations with the club recently because as a charity, The Park has to be able to afford its running costs so that we can continue as a community centre. We don’t get any government money and we have to raise the money we need to survive, by ourselves.

“The boxing club is currently situated on a piece of land that has a commercial value. We need to sell it so that we can secure the future of The Park.

“We would be delighted if the boxing club management could raise the money to buy the land themselves but if not, we will ensure that we support them in finding alternative premises, whether on our site or elsewhere. “