East End marking fresh chapter after new gyms opens
May 13, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny
Sunderland East End is ready to start a fresh chapter in the club’s history after opening its new, refurbished gym made a possible by a Sport England Community Asset Fund (CAF) grant.
The Tyne, Tees and Wear club suffered the devastation of a fire from a suspected arson attack (pictured bottom) in April last year which caused smoke damage across the whole first floor and a destroyed rear door.
That prompted the club’s management to seek out a new venue which would provide more space enable the club to reach out and become a community hub.
Having secured an old church building in the Hendon area of the city (picture two, below) that was being used as a woodwork shop as its base, East End then set about putting together plans to transform it into a modern boxing facility.
And that vision has now come to fruition, with £85,000 of the £110,000 cost coming from the Sport England grant, a further £3,500 secured by now former ward Councillor Michael Mordey and the remainder being put in by Head Coach and Treasurer Robbie New.
The inside of the building (pictured above), which dates back to 1848, now boasts two rings, changing rooms, showers, toilets, access ramps and new ceilings and floors.
Outside, a unique mural has been painted on the front of the venue by local artist Frank Styles (main picture), which features Robbie’s daughter Amelia, 15, and fellow club members Luke Thompson, 25, Jevan Murphy, 21, and Xristian Todoroww.
Existing members are already back in sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with 10 to 15-year-olds followed by older boxers.
The club is also planning to start taster and beginner sessions in the near future.
New, who runs the club alongside fellow coaches David Robson and Michael Schofield, hopes the new facility will make the club even more inclusive and give them the chance to offer a space for other community groups to use.
“It’s amazing, it’s beyond words,” he told the Sunderland Echo. “Members who have already been in love it, and they’ve never had changing rooms, male and female toilets and facilities like that before.
“Some of our parents come from Easington and had to wait out in their car before, but now they’ll be able to come in and enjoy a cup of coffee as they wait.
“Frank came down a while back and did a photo shoot with Luke and Jevan and my daughter and he got a photo of Xristian later on.
“He said ‘What do you want?’ and I said ‘I’ll leave it to you’ and he came back with this.
“I just thought, we’ve spent all this money on the building, and I’d seen other work by Frank, and I thought our members deserve to have something special like this and so we looked at how we could afford it. It looks brilliant.”
East End has also benefited in recent years from £40,000 in sponsorship from Steve Johnson, of 4 Power Ltd.
You can find out more about the club at www.facebook.com/SunderlandEastEndABC