Bognor Regis boxing club celebrates 100 years of training young people
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Now based in a purpose-fitted facility in North Bersted, the boxing club dates back to 1923, when it was founded by a group of enthusiastic volunteers and prominent local businessmen.
Since then, hundreds of young fighters have stepped into the ring with the Bognor ABC logo on their trunks, squaring off against rivals from clubs all over the country.
With success both at home and abroad, the team regularly punches above its weight, taking on boxers from clubs like Finchley Boxing Club, which produced champion athletes like Anthony Joshua and Derek Chisora.
For head coaches Paul Mason and Alan Wise, that success would not be possible without the commitment of its volunteers and supporters. "All of us coaches really do give hours and hours of time to keep our ship afloat,” Mr Mason, who thanked everyone who contributes to the club, said. “Matchmaking takes hours each week. We spend weekends away competing with our boxers, travelling miles and miles to obtain good quality sparring, attending regular training courses. It takes a good, coherent team to make all this possible, and we have one.”
Alan Wise added: “We owe a big thanks to the boxers, and the coaches, but also the parents – the mums and dads. Without those guys, we don’t have a boxing club. They drive all over the country, drive to sparring. It’s all about them.”
Coaches paid particular thanks to club ‘Guv’nor’ David Larner, who has been involved with the group for more than sixty years. He first joined as a boxer aged just 18, and competed for a range of regional titles before a hand injury forced him to hang up the gloves and get into coaching. Now 79, he serves as an England Boxing judge and club chairman, overseeing its finances and general direction.
Both Paul and Alan presented him with a plaque commemorating his continued service and praised his contributions to the young people of Bognor Regis
"In Dave’s time, he’s guided lots of young people in and out of the door,” Mr Wise said. “His knowledge is invaluable. In this sport, we learn from everyone else. The young ones learn from us, and we learned from Dave. He’s seen it all.”
Mr Larner, delighted with the surprise, gave a few words of advice to the young boxers under his wing: “Just have confidence. You need to be confident in yourself,” he said. “And make sure you’re disciplined, boxing is all about that self-drive.”
For those who can make the sacrifice, David said there are very real rewards: not just gold medals and prize belts, but a sense of community and support that lasts a lifetime. “It just becomes a lifestyle, eventually,” he explained. “You come in two nights a week, every week, and you find yourself going from boxing to coaching to judging to whatever else. My partner is involved with boxing now, and so is my son. It becomes a family.”