Looking back on four years at Harry Crook
JANUARY marks four years since Downend Boxing Club moved in to the Harry Crook Centre.
During the lockdown, members and volunteers have been sharing memories online, and it is amazing to see how much has taken place in a relatively short space of time.
The empty hall looked a daunting sight when we first saw it in 2016, due to it needing re-decorating. However, through the wonderful and tireless efforts of the volunteers, the hall took on a new lease of life.
A generous grant from Bristol City Council's sport department followed, and a full-size international ring and state-of-the art weight apparatus was installed.
Within three weeks of opening, the centre played host to the West of England regional youth championships, and numerous prestigious tournaments have followed, including National Association of Boys and Girls Clubs championship stages, and a fantastic tournament when Bristol select met a County Wexford select in 2018.
Visitors from Ireland were also made welcome at the centre for the annual Bristol/County Cork exchange tournament, where the teams were fed and watered ahead of the tournament.
We hosted boxers from the RAF and Army when they were deployed in the area, and an international training day followed, when young people from Ireland, Wales and England enjoyed training, both in the hall and court area of the centre.
As a result, the England talent team brought an open talent day to the centre, and the best young athletes from all over the country attended to showcase their talent.
The centre also serves as an England Boxing educational venue, with coaches and officials attending to gain vital qualifications and safeguarding knowledge.
Around 40 new coaches from across the country have attended and qualified since 2016.
Four of our young people have boxed for England whilst we have been at Harry Crook, with numerous national and international medals won.
More importantly, scores of young people have gained a healthy alternative to knife and gang violence that we hear so much about, and gone on to careers and better lifestyles, thanks to the discipline that boxing offers.
Not bad for a small former boys' club: I’m sure former Lord Mayor of Bristol, Alderman Harry Crook (below), would have approved.