Situated in the heart of Langley Mill in a modest wooden cabin, a boxing club has been churning out champions.
Founding member Peter Morgan has been teaching local lads to box for nearly 20 years now.
And even more good news is on the horizon for the club as it has just learned it will receive a grant for £10,000 to improve the aging gym based on Queen’s Street recreation ground.
The money comes courtesy of supermarket giants Asda as part of a planning agreement to pump funds back in to the town once the Station Road supermarket had been built.
It has been a long time coming for grade-A boxing judge Peter, the coaches and the 17 youngsters who use the club three times a week.
“They brought this whole building over on a lorry from Wigan,” said Peter, recalling the club’s early days. “It stood for a year in the Co-op yard before we could get planning permission to put it in place here. People called it a heap of firewood.”
The idea, a brainchild of nearby publican Jim Allen, who ran the St Charles Napier in Aldercar, was to form a boxing club for the youngsters of Langley Mill. It aimed to keep the area’s youth fit and teach the importance of respect.
Only four youngsters turned up to the first session back in 1992. But the club has, in a quiet way, flourished ever since.
Now all the boxers, from as young as 11, get to enter regular competitions and competitive bouts against boxers of similar size and age.
Only this week Peter and his coaches celebrated one if its members competitive success. Phil Davenport, a 29-year-old from Loscoe, picked up the Derbyshire middleweight belt after a bout in Derby.
“I’ve been coming here for two and a half years now,” said title-winning Phil. “When I started I was 15 and a half stone – I am 11 stone now. Boxing has given me massive amounts of fitness and confidence. I still get a real buzz from coming here and I do a bit of coaching. It’s good to see youngsters coming on too, we’ve got a really good crowd here.”
And joint head coach David Goulding is proof of the club’s pedigree.
The 25-year-old, who used to be known as ‘Dynamite David’, was also a winner of the Derbyshire championship as well as being a finalist twice.
David, who has been at the club since he was 11, was thrilled about the cash boost.
The Langley Mill-born and bred man says the club is important for the area in so many ways, namely because it teaches youngsters the importance of respect.
“It’s about sportsmanship,” he added. “A lot of people think it’s all about violence, but they don’t see the discipline and the self-respect it teaches them.”
Founding member Peter, who has celebrated his 70th birthday, agrees.
“We can see two young lads in a ring trying to knock each other out,” he said. “As soon as it is over you will see them sitting side-by-side talking – that’s a great thing.”
Running the club on the small ‘subs’ that youngsters and adults pay each week to use the facilities has been tough, but worthwhile, claims Peter.
Without a £10,000 cheque from Asda, the club may have never got the extension or the female changing rooms it has longed for.
And the plans to introduce a weekly women’s fitness class at the gym once the building is renovated could help Langley Mil Boxing Club generate more revenue, attract more boxers and secure its future for another 20 years.