The Fox ABC bounces back after fire with new gym

April 26, 2021 | by Matt Halfpenny


Greater Manchester’s The Fox ABC is celebrating opening its doors to a new gym – just over 12 months on from a devastating fire that saw their previous home burned to the ground.

Club officials, coaches, boxers, volunteers and parents alike were distraught when their venue of more than a decade at Morton Mill, Failsworth was lost in the blaze.

But the club where former world champion Anthony Crolla cut his teeth has come out fighting and is now back open, just down the road at a new venue in Oldham’s Lime Side Estate, after raising more than £5,000 via an online appeal.

Situated at Avro FC on White Bank Road, Fox now has access to a bigger floorspace, meaning it will be able to welcome even more boxers once Covid-19 restrictions, that place limits on numbers, ease.

And the new location means the club – first set up by Head Coach Jimmy Lewis more than 40 years ago – hopes to entice a whole new set of local youngsters into the gym.

“It’s been great to be back, starting with the carded boxers, and we’ll be following with others sessions once we have finalised timetables,” said the club’s Jim Murphy.

“We have had so many enquiries since we have come back, the phone has been ringing off the hook, which is really encouraging, As, hopefully, Covid restrictions continue to ease, we will be able to cater for more and more people.

“It was obviously very upsetting with what happened at the gym in Failsworth because we had got it just right, how we wanted it.

Watch ITV News’ piece on the club’s reopening

“But this move has allowed us to have separate changing rooms for males, females and disabled boxers, which will means we can reach out to a wider group of people.

“Obviously there isn’t a good time to have a national pandemic, but at least it came at a time for us when we were trying to get the new venue sorted and we would have been closed anyway.

“We still have a few bits of equipment to get, but we are getting there now.”

The club has been helped on its recent journey by the Maverick Stars Trust, who have not only provided funding, but have also helped the club apply for charity status, which will allow them to more easily apply for grants in the future.

It is already applying for a grant with support from England Boxing to put on new sessions for beginners, which are expected to run on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Murphy added: “Maverick have been very helpful in the whole process, not just in terms of supporting us financially, but in setting things up so we can get further funding in the future, so I’d like to say thank you to Charlotte (Gilley) and the team.

“They have been a big help to a lot of clubs, particularly in the North West, and have helped minimise the disruption and the time it’s take us to return.”

It’s been a long road back for Fox after their fire devastation, but they can now see a brighter future in prospect.

They are also being aided by a commitment from club legend Crolla to regularly take some of the junior coaching sessions.

“Where we are (in Lime Side) means we can look to attract some kids of the estate. Yes, some of them will be tough kids, but we want to help and give them some direction,” said Murphy.

“It’s great that Anthony has committed to taking some sessions and getting involved at the club where he trained as a kid.

“When a former world champion is teaching you, then you can’t fail to be inspired and he is a great role model for them to have.”

To find out more about The Fox ABC, go to their Instagram page by clicking here.