State-of-the-art facility in pipeline for Islington Boxing Club
April 17, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny
Islington Boxing Club has unveiled plans to build a new purpose-built community facility which it hopes will serve the area ‘for decades to come’.
The club, which started out as Kings Cross ABC in 1974, moved to its current home in Upper Holloway in 1981, taking up residence in the former site offices of the Bovis Construction Company, which were used when building the Elthorne Park estate.
40 years on and the club is still there in the distinctive buildings branded in the club colours or red and white, but management and committee members now agree the time is right to rebuild the venue so it is fit for the 21st century.
The cost of the project – which would be built on the existing site that is leased from Islington Council – is estimated to be between £3.5 and £4 million.
Once it is completed the council has agreed to grant a long-term lease of 99 years to help secure the club’s home for the long-term future.
The seven-figure cost means that once planning permission has been secured, Islington is to begin the fundraising process in earnest.
“The site building site offices that we have been using since 1981 (pictured above) have served the club very well down the years and we have done much work to adapt them for the purposes of a boxing club, but they were only meant to be temporary and we have been there 40 years,” said Doni Spiro, New Build Project Manager and a committee member for Islington ABC.
“But it has got to the stage now where we feel it is right to start the process of building a new venue, not just because the numbers we are attracting means we have outgrown the current buildings, but we also think from a health and safety and comfort point of view it’s the right thing to do.
“We believe that what we can create can serve not just people in Islington, but also further afield, and not just for boxing… for education, nutrition, sports psychology and other things as well.
“We now have the chance of securing a long-term lease and of creating something special for the community that can be enjoyed by people for decades to come.”
“It’s going to be a big ask to raise the money, but we believe it’s what the area of North West London needs and will tick a lot of boxers for a lot of people.”
Islington is looking to raise funds in a number of ways, including via capital grants, benefactors who have an interest in sport and boxing in particular and through club fundraising.
No definitive time scale for completing the new building has yet been laid out, but it is hoped that work could start within the next two years.
Spiro added: “Obviously, we would like to start as soon as possible, but the first thing will be to get our plans approved.
“It may then be a case of doing things in stages, and go through various rounds of fundraising, so that we get one part of the new building finished and then can open that up.
“It would be great if someone came along and had the money for us to go ahead all in one go, but realistically we know it is not going to be that easy and we think it will take two years to raise it.
“We certainly want to keep the current gym open until new facilities are available as we don’t want people to be losing out while the project is completed.”
Islington has a proud boxing history and has produced a number of noteworthy champions at various levels, including the likes of John Beckles, Mervyn Stevens, Guy Williamson, Michael Scott, Courtney Fry, Caroline Dubois, Masood Abdullah and Jem Campbell (the latter two pictured above).
But while developing stars of the future will remain an important part of what they do, Spiro and the rest of the club’s committee are just as excited by the community opportunities the new venue will create.
They are keen to work with schools, the Probation Service, employment agencies and other clubs to maximise the social impact of the club’s activities.
“We can provide role models for young people who are having trouble at school, those who they will really listen to, to help put them on the right path,” said Spiro.
“Boxing is a great way for people who have been in prison to be reintegrated at their own pace, where they can meet like-minded people, so we’d like to work with the Probation Service on that.
“Where people are lacking in confidence or certain skills, we can help them out and make them more attractive to employers.
“There are so many opportunities… it would be great to give parents a space to work on their fitness while their kids are in the gym training.
“And we would like to help other clubs who are struggling to find or afford a venue for their shows by providing them somewhere to do that.
“The club is in a good position and where we are looking to go will help takes things to the next level. If all goes according to plan, we want to be at the forefront in the coming years.”
You can find out more about the project by going to the club’s new website (pictured below) by clicking here.