Miles Oak Boxing Academy: A dream come true
October 4, 2023 | by Chris Boyd
Within the city of Brighton and Hove is a small neighbourhood called Mile Oak and, within that, is a brand-new boxing club beginning to settle its roots.
Mile Oak Boxing Academy is in its infancy and is the very definition of beginning at the bottom with nothing. The club opens its doors three times a week from within a local school for children with Special Educational Needs, using a borrowed ring and borrowed gloves and equipment.
Tracy Davies is the welfare officer of the club and, whilst the club itself is new, the foundations of it are deeply engrained in boxing.
“I’ve been with my husband Bill Davies for 33 years. He’s an amateur and professional boxing coach and his brother is Ronnie Davies, who trained Chris Eubank Sr. into a world champion.
“My son also boxed and for me, it was a case of if you can’t beat them, join them. Fortunately, my job is as a behaviour inclusion learning mentor which lends itself well to certain roles within boxing. I’m now the Southern Counties Safeguarding Officer and I help teach the courses too.
“I do everything at the club! I’m also the secretary, I make sure the paperwork is up to date, seek and organise donations, get in contact with media… you name it and I’m doing it. Me and my husband are a team, though. People know us as ‘Bill and Tracy Davies’.”
Despite the infancy of the club, the coaching team has a wealth of experience amongst its ranks boasting a former England Pathway coach alongside co-creator Bill, who is the head coach of the Sussex squad and coached Hillcrest’s Harvey Dykes to an England Boxing National Amateur Championship in 2022. Ronnie Davies also pops his head in from time to time, offering advice to the coaching staff.
The coaching structure and the club itself are the culmination of a dream that Bill and Tracy have shared for years – and the opening of the club shows the success grit and determination can produce.
“We’ve always wanted our own club; it has always been a dream of ours but down south the rent for a premises is about £2000 per month. It got to the point where we were desperate, and I put out the feelers on Facebook,” said Tracy.
The pair were in luck when an old work friend of Bill’s, now caretaker at a SEN school in Mile Oak, got in touch to arrange a space for two to three evenings a week. When word got out, a coach in between clubs offered them a ring and equipment to borrow until the club could afford to purchase its own.
With everything in place, the club opened its doors two nights a week in late June between 6.30pm and 8.30pm and it received strong numbers as the local area cries out for a social hub.
“I’m born and bred in Mile Oak and my husband is from just over the hill and we’ve seen them close all the youth clubs down. You name it and they’ve closed it and I get fed up with people talking negatively about children that have nowhere to go.
“So, we’ve made it as cheap as possible: under 16s are £3.50 a session and £15 a year subs, whilst over 16s are £6.50 and £20 a year sub. We pay £30 an hour to rent the school and we’ve come out with no money, so we’re looking towards donations,” said Tracy.
With the foundations now in place for their newly formed boxing club, Tracy and Bill’s attention has turned to how they can transform it into a thriving community hub going forward.
“I’ve been in contact with the local police, and they’ve given me a donation form to fill in. Another group called Merry Men has offered us £300 with, potentially, more to come in the future and maybe around Christmas time. It all helps, I mean Bill and I have put our own money in to purchase all the coaches’ kits.
“With time and donations, we’d like to get our own gym in the area and then we can look to diversify our classes. Once everything is up and running properly, Bill is going to take some time and help the SEN children at the school through boxing sessions.
“We’d love a female class and we’ve tried to get female boxers. We’ve got one girl, bless her. She’s 11 and she’s very enthusiastic. We’ve got one man who is 70 who comes, and we’ve got a dad who comes in with his son.
“The sessions are mixed, and they have to be at the moment. One day when we have our own club, I’ll be able to say ‘Right, you come in at this time, you come in at this time etc.’ and the sessions will then be more focused”.