ELBA’s premises extension plans supported by Labour MPs

January 24, 2024 | by Chris Boyd


East London Boxing Academy’s (ELBA) plan for an extension to their existing building has been backed by two Labour MPs.

John Cryer MP for Leyton Wanstead and Stephanie Peacock, the Shadow Minister for Sport, Gambling and Media and the MP for Barnsley East met with ELBA’s founder and head coach Umer Iqbal at the boxing club earlier this month.

The trio were joined by England Boxing’s Community Support Officer for London Dan O’Sullivan and Head of Operations Avoen Perryman along with local and national councillors to discuss ELBA’s planned extension, which would allow them to increase their capacity, membership and diversify their classes.

ELBA was born out of passion and a glowing need for it by the local community. Located in Leyton in a small, converted sports pavilion within Drapers Field, the gym is just a stone’s throw from the London 2012 Olympic Stadium.

It boasts one of the most diverse and inclusive memberships in London, reflecting Waltham Forest’s 53% ethnically diverse community – which is higher than the national average. The area is also one of the most deprived in England according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD).

After providing a service to its community for over a decade, ELBA is now one of the biggest clubs in London boasting a growing list of successes and, in turn, a growing membership waiting list.

That has led Umer and his team to draw up plans for an extension, which has now been submitted for building approval whilst capital funding is sought by the club.

Both Stephanie Peacock MP and John Cryer MP have thrown their weight behind the project as they spoke about the club’s brilliant track record of bringing the local community together and creating opportunities for success.

Cryer spoke about the benefits of having ELBA within his constituency: “The benefits are enormous. The membership is huge, and I’ve been involved with them almost since their inception.

“During that time, they’ve gone from an industrial estate down the road to this premises, a council premises, and here you get a huge number of boys and girls from all backgrounds. It takes them off the street, gets them fit, and improves discipline.

“We’ve always had social problems and with deprivation and this [ELBA] takes children away from all of the temptations and bad influences that, to some extent, you get out there.”

Shadow Minster for Sport, Gambling and Media Stephanie Peacock MP echoed Cryer’s statements and also spoke about funding opportunities available to the club.

“It’s great to see the club, their community, and their plans for expansion.

“The club is the closest to the Olympic Village and I believe there is still some funding available so it would be great to link up the club with the Legacy Committee.”

Should ELBA secure the funding necessary, the club aims to run more inclusive programmes, including further women’s classes and another one aimed at individuals who struggle to afford fitness activities.

“Cost should never be a barrier to boxing, regardless of the level.

“We’ll also look to increase our female-only sessions started by Aileen Cooney in the face of an increase in violence against women.

“We’ve also enjoyed success on a local and national level, so we’ll also focus on our incredibly talented competitive boxers, who can grab many more honours along the way”, said Iqbal.