Ray's delight as boxing club packs a punch

December 01 2017

ONE of Bristol's oldest boxing clubs has finally found a new home after eight years of uncertainty.

ONE of Bristol's oldest boxing clubs has finally found a new home after eight years of uncertainty.

Kingswood Boxing Club was set up in the 1970s by local legend Ray Jones and enjoyed success in the following two decades.

Hundreds of youngsters passed through its doors in the old YMCA building in The Park, most notably a young lad by the name of Ross Hale who went on to win the British and Commonwealth light-welter weight titles.

When the building was sold for flats in 1986 the club moved to the Kingswood Foundation and continued its successful run.

But when it was forced to move once again in 2009, this time to make way for a cafe, the club experienced eight years of being moved from pillar to post and, as a consequence, dwindling numbers.

Now two men, buoyed by their love of boxing as youths, have resurrected the club after finding a permanent home in Fishponds.

Coaches Craig Amos, 34, of Fishponds, and Shaun Luther, 50, of Longwell Green, both boxed for Kingswood Boxing Club as youngsters and are determined to see the club enjoy the same success it received in its glory years.

The men have been renovating an empty unit at Avon Business Park in Lodge Causeway since the summer and it's now fully equipped, offering training sessions every Monday and Wednesday from 6pm.

Craig said the club has had a turbulent time in recent years but thanks to the generosity of his father-in-law Pete Griffiths who offered him the unit, he hopes to put that behind them.

"We were in the Kingswood Foundation for years but were moved out because they made the room we were using into a coffee shop," said Craig.

"From that point we were just being kicked out of everywhere; nothing worked out. 

"My father-in-law has a few units in Fishponds and one of them was in a right mess. He said we were more than welcome to use it but we'd have to clear it out and repair it.

"We started doing it up back in the summer and spent a lot of time and effort getting the unit back up to scratch and turning it into a boxing gym. Had it not been for my father-in-law, we'd probably still not have had anywhere to train. Now we've got a place we can call home. It's such a relief to know we now have a fully-functioning boxing gym we can use when we want and can do what we like to it. It's brilliant."

The pair have been running training session for the past few months and interest is growing as the word spreads that Kingswood Boxing Club is back in business.

One of the highlights for Craig, Shaun and the youngsters are the visits from Ray Jones, of Kingswood, who started the club in 1975 when he came to the end of his professional boxing career.

At the age of 76, Ray is still an important part of the club and pops in to say hello and to make sure Craig and Shaun are delivering to his exacting standards.

"He comes in and shouts from the ringside to let us know what we're doing wrong," Craig jokes. "Ray's boxing knowledge is unbelievable; he absolutely loves the sport."

Craig, who works as a floor layer at his father-in-law's Fishponds-based business, D & G Flooring, became involved with the club at the age of 17, getting through to the finals of the Novice Championships held at Crystal Palace.

"When I was boxing, we used to travel all over the country to box and everyone knew about Kingswood Boxing Club. Because we've been out of the loop for so long we're far less known now but we plan to change that now we've got a permanent home."

Craig and Shaun hope to engage as many boys and girls from age 13 as space allows.

Training sessions feature warm-up exercises like skipping, squat thrusts, stretches and sprints before moving on to shadow boxing, bag work and one-on-one pad work. There's also sparring sessions in the ring for those who are ready.

"Boxing is such a tough sport and you have to be disciplined but you can have such a great time," said Craig.

"We've had a lot of kids in the past who have joined the club because they have no self-confidence and boxing can really help with that. 

"Young people often open up to us if they are experiencing problems. Sometimes they feel they can't talk to their mum or dad but, in a gym environment, they give us that bit of respect and open up."

Craig, who has three children and a step-daughter, said he is happy to give up his spare time to make Kingswood Boxing Club successful again.

"All the work Shaun and I do is voluntary. We don't get any help from anyone and the only way we function is through subs. If a bag breaks, it comes out of the sub money the kids pay.

"We're doing it because we love boxing. It's just a great sport to get into. We're inspired by Ray who set it up. Boxing has been Ray's life so we really want to keep it going for him."

Craig and Shaun are now looking for a club secretary to attend meetings with the ABA (Amateur Boxing Association) with a view to getting back to competition level.

Craig said: "So much has changed since we were fighting so we're a bit out of the loop. Our ultimate goal though is to get people back into competitions and get the club going again as a proper boxing club."

To find out more about Kingswood Boxing Club, or if you are interested in the voluntary role of secretary, get in touch with Craig by emailing chopperamos@hotmail.co.uk