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So you think you can box?
Running in the local community for 45 years, the Folkestone Amateur Boxing Club not only provide a form of exercise, the work they do with young people in the town also provides discipline, respect and concentration.
The club which has five coaches, all of whom volunteer their time for free, has come a long way since it was formed in a hut in Canterbury Road in 1970. After spending many years in Dawson Road the club can now be found on Dover Road.
Visiting them, not for the first time, takes a bit of negotiation as the club runs in the Dover Road Social Club, but the entrance to the boxing club is at the back, off a residential road, through a small car park and up a flight of stairs that would give an arachnophobic nightmares for years.
When I first came to the club it was in 2013 to see them awarded Clubmark accreditation, only the second club in Kent to receive the award and then, like now, the club is bursting at the seams. Walking past older members who get ready, they wait patiently for the youngsters to finish before they can take their space.
As per the Clubmark award, the club offers the highest standard of safety for children and with the juniors starting at 10-years-old, it’s an important part of the clubs status, but for the kids, it’s the boxing that keeps them coming.
Rocky, yes that’s his real name, quit Karate for the call of the ring: “When I got my black belt I wanted to try something new so I went to boxing and I liked it so much that I quit Karate. In Karate you don’t do as much exercise as you do in boxing, which is five times a week, plus they are great coaches.
It’s also a good opportunity for young people, if you mess around in the gym you have to do press-ups.”
Open Monday to Friday for Juniors, Seniors and Ladies nights which Barry Pluck, a coach at the club tells me are hugely popular, I feel sure it can’t be long until the clubs popularity will drive them to bigger premises, but the cost of where they currently live means that the fee for the kids is incredibly low.
Barry said: “We want kids off the street really, to come and get involved with sport and do something active rather than just staying in playing on their computers all night or perhaps going out and hanging around on street corners.
“We want to get them involved with something and that’s why especially for the kids, we charge £1 to train. It’s great value for money and it just gives them the incentive to get down and do something positive.”
Mark Robertson, whose son has been in the juniors for nearly three years said it has also been a good form of discipline: “It keeps him off the streets and it’s good to see him doing something. It’s also good discipline down here for them, the coaches don’t let them mess about which I think is the main thing for me and why I brought him down here in the first place.”
Mark said the training has shown real results in other areas of his son’s life: “He’s always active and I’d say it’s made a difference to his behaviour at home and at school, he burns a lot of energy here at the club.”
Lennon joined because he wanted to box and get fit and he has been coming for two-and-a-half-years. He started coming to the club on his own: “I didn’t know anyone else here when I joined but I have also made new friends here.
“I think it’s Important to have a club like this in Folkestone.”
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