The wait is nearly over for members of Rawthorpe Amateur Boxing Club in Huddersfield.
After two-and-a-half years of fundraising and renovation they are on the verge of moving into their new home: a 19th century former textile mill in Milnsbridge.
The final fundraiser – a tournament in which RABC members will take on opponents from across the north – is on May 27 at The Venue in Halifax.
Earlier this month rising stars Harry Grant, 15, and Tim Fisher, 20, enjoyed a one-to-one training session with ex-world cruiserweight champion Carl “The Cat” Thompson, who famously floored David Haye in their epic 2004 fight.
The completion of the complex at Bridge Croft Mills is a dream come true for RABC organiser Mark Reynolds who, with supporters, coaching staff and parents has spearheaded a £40,000 fundraising programme. He estimates that volunteers have put more than 30,000 hours into renovating the space.
All the money has been raised by the club’s 300 members and supporters with backing from local businesses such as Bailey Ceilings, Bamforth Skip Hire and Huddersfield Dyeing Company. It has received no external funding.
The club will have three floors offering not just boxing training but also weights, cross fitness, judo, yoga and a play area for children. Mark says he hopes it will become a hub for the community. There are even plans for a youth club.
“We already engage with 6,000 people a year,” said Mark. “We will be open seven days a week and expect 28,000 people to walk through the door in the first year.
“We are promoting healthy living and a healthy lifestyle with boxing and the discipline surrounding it as the tool.”
It is hoped that boxing legend Johnny Nelson, a regular visitor, will perform the official opening ceremony later this summer. Carl Thompson will also be present along with reigning WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan, who paid a visit to a training session at the club’s current base at the Gas Club in Huddersfield this week.
Ex-middleweight Mark, 49, who has 40 years’ experience as a boxer and coach, formed the club in 1998. His coaching staff – all well-known figures in northern boxing – includes his brother, Mike, a three-time national champion, along with Andy Lowrie, John Doyle, Shaun Armstrong, Gabor Voros, Richard Sykes, club chairman Paul Morris and Andrew Bainbridge.
“We know what boxing did for us and we are trying to put something back. It’s part of our lives. I wouldn’t know what else to do,” says Mark.
Anyone wishing to support the RABC can contact Mark Reynolds on 07747 846977.