Story and pictures by Lewis Campbell
It has been a long arduous battle – but Skemer’s Boxing Club finally opened the doors of its new home in Knowle West to the public.
On Saturday 2 March the local community turned out in force to celebrate the launch of the new gym in the Jubilee Hall on Wedmore Vale – and find out about the classes on offer.
The Knowledge has been following this story ever since Chris Winters (known locally as Skemer) was given notice by The Park Centre in 2017 that he had to leave his former club at Tavistock Road. The organisation said it was having to sell the land “to secure its future”.
Skemer tried unsuccessfully to raise £300,000 to buy the land and after over a year of searching for another building as well as contacting councillors and Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees – he was told last November he would be granted the lease to the club’s new home in Jubilee Hall. See www.knowlewest.co.uk/always-believe-boxing-club-saved/
The event on Saturday was well attended by local people – and guests included Bristol’s former world boxing champion Glenn Catley – who came to show support for the club and highlight the importance of facilities like this for the area.
Glenn said: “It’s fantastic! I’m absolutely over the moon for Chris and the community. There was some competition in getting the building, but it’s gone to the right person without a shadow of a doubt.
“What Chris has done for the kids in the community over the years is phenomenal and it’s only right that he’s been rewarded with this building. Now he can carry on doing the great work that he’s been doing for many, many years to come.
“He does this for the love of the sport and to keep the kids off the streets. He deserves recognition for this and giving him this building is the perfect way of doing so.”
Other boxers attending included Skemer’s son, professional boxer, Duane The Gasman Winters who is bantam-weight Southern Area champion.
Among the residents who came to show their own support were families with young children, all eager to take up the sport.
Luke Bryant from Knowle West, who has trained with Skemer for six years said: “The old place did a lot of good for the community and now Chris has this new building and he’s still in the community.
“He helps to keep the kids off the streets and promotes the anti-bullying campaign, so it’s really important to have this here in Knowle West.”
Skemer, whose motto is “always believe” told The Knowledge he was pleased the event had gone so well – and the highlight of the day for him had been “all the kids coming along.”
“It’s all about the kids at the end of the day. They’re the future. It’s been a year of battling to get this place but, fair play to Marvin Rees. I must thank him and the community because we couldn’t have done it without the community’s support.
“This new place is a bit smaller than the last one but it’s more homely and we’re ready to roll.”
As well as his usual boxing and anti-bullying classes, Skemer’s plans include new sessions in mixed gender and women’s boxing as well as Muay Thai, yoga and judo.
Visit Facebook: Skemer Winters for more details.
Main picture: New home at last – Skemer supported by members of the community and boxing world at his new club in Wedmore Vale.