Costs could close Belfast boxing club

Published Sunday, 10 March 2013
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A west Belfast boxing club could be forced to shut its doors in a matter of weeks due to spiralling costs.

Costs could close Belfast boxing club
Young boxers train at Clonard ABC in west Belfast. (© UTV)

Clonard Amateur Boxing Club trains at a gym off the Springfield Road and desperately needs new premises.

Over 50 young amateur boxers train there three times a week despite rising damp on the walls, cracks in the flooring and a roof in desperate need of repair.

Their main ring has also been badly damaged by rain - and they have a major problem with pigeons getting in through cracks in the roof.

Clonard's motto is simple - they never turn anyone away from their doors.

But they rely solely on donations from supporters and the wider public - and money collected from kids and teenagers who can afford to pay for their training.

Any money the club does raise is spent on taking its boxers to the Ulster and Irish championships and the club is home to many a title holder.

Last year, four boxers won Ulster titles with two going on to represent Ireland.

And although the structural problems are not putting the young boxers off their training, the bill for the urgent repair work will result in a huge jump in the club's rent and may force its closure.

In the last three or four years, the rain's started to come through the ceiling and it's becoming unhealthy for the lads to train.

Paddy Graham

Clonard's rent will increase by over £2,000 because of the expensive building work.

Club secretary Paddy Graham told UTV they are on their last legs.

"The showers are freezing, the whole place is filled with dampness. We can't continue to train in this situation - because one day the roof is going to fall in on the kids.

"And being from an area like west Belfast - which is very deprived - not many kid's families have the money to send them here."

Clonard desperately needs a cash injection if they're to survive.

They're pinning all their hopes on securing a slice of the £3.27m in lottery funding promised to boxing clubs by Sport Northern Ireland last year.

Around 100 clubs - including Clonard - have applied for the equipment and building grants.

But the money has yet to be allocated and could come too late for the club.

© UTV News
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