'We're bursting at the seams' - dilemma for Norwich City ABC

Norwich City Amateur Boxing Club at the Kickstop Gym

And this is a quiet night for Norwich City ABC! - Credit: Chris Lakey

Norwich City Amateur Boxing Club is looking for a home - because they’ve outgrown their current premises. 

Twice a week, more than 60 youngsters head to the Kickstop Gym in Whiffler Road, which has been home to some of the county’s finest boxing talents. 

The Walsh brothers – Michael, Liam and Ryan – Jon Thaxton, Sam Sexton and many more have honed their skills on the single ring in the corner of the gym. The wall opposite is still decorated with fight posters from years gone by. It’s proper old school. But times have changed. 

The members, aged from eight to 40 years old, range from the learners to the elite boxers who go out and do it for real on amateur shows around the country. They cram every available bit of floor space. 

Youngsters going through their paces at Norwich City ABC

Youngsters going through their paces at Norwich City ABC - Credit: Chris Lakey

There’s no changing room and there’s just one loo for everyone. And the parents who watch their youngsters being put through their impressive paces have to squeeze around the one entrance door to get a glimpse of the action inside. 

Now the club – a non-profit organisation manned by volunteers – is on the lookout for a new home in the city. 

Their requirements aren’t earth-shattering – they just need more room, for two rings, much larger floor space and separate changing room facilities. 

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Coach Alex McAllister was one of those who founded the club 15 years ago. He’s seen it grow over the years, but acknowledges that it is “bursting at the seams”. 

Youngsters going through their paces at Norwich City ABC

Hard at it at the Kickstop Gym. busy home of Norwich City ABC - Credit: Chris Lakey

“There is just not enough pace, we are absolutely bursting,” he said. 

“We would like to find a space somewhere, that we could rent long term, so we have enough room for two rings, plenty of floor space, a space for bags, that we could use five days a week. We only have two days a week here and we only have three hours each night for 60-80 kids. 

“It would be good if the council could help us, because we feel we fulfil a lot of needs. 

“We will pay our way - we are essentially a charity like every England Boxing club. All the coaches – 15 of them - are volunteers, the committee are volunteers and while we can’t afford the world, we just want somewhere we can call home for our boxing family. 

"We have one toilet here that the boys and girls have to share, no changing rooms... but we don’t want to turn anyone away.” 

Youngsters going through their paces at Norwich City ABC

Youngsters going through their paces at Norwich City ABC - Credit: Chris Lakey

And this is where society owes a debt to Norwich City ABC and many others – it’s not just about producing elite amateur boxers, but helping a societal need to produce good people. 

There’s a youth club feel to a night with them at the Kickstop, there’s a strong ‘family’ ethos, where all are welcome. The coaches teach, but they’re also a shoulder to cry on, careers advisors, social workers. 

“We are not just boxing coaches, we are life coaches,” says Alex. 

“But we don’t want to get to a point where we are full. 

“How do we turn anyone away? How do we say there is no room and a kid wanders off down the street and maybe does something silly?” 

Norwich City ABC are looking for bigger premises

Norwich City ABC are looking for bigger premises - Credit: Chris Lakey

There is of course another side to the club’s existence - the sport of boxing. At 7.30pm, the small area that serves as a meeting point between gym and the outside world, is a crush, as the youngsters file out and the older members head inside. It’s when the elite boxers get the chance to hone their skills. If they can find the elbow room. 

“We have a strong stable here, some elite boxers who have reached open class finals,” says Alex. “We have numerous Eastern Counties champions and there is a lot of potential here - but they need the facilities to be able to develop. 

“I strongly believe, given more time, they could fulfil their dreams and we could produce something special for the city.” 

In return, the city is being asked to help. If you can help Norwich City ABC, please contact Kerry Norfolk on 07772 801373.