Members of the historic St Paul’s boxing club in Hull are sporting snazzy new kit, thanks to a generous donation from James Legal.
The Hull and Beverley-based law firm has donated £3,000 to purchase new shorts, vests and sweatshirts for members to wear when representing the club at national and international competitions.
They will don their new kit at an England Select via Ireland Select boxing match this Saturday night from 7.30pm, the latest of many international fixtures run by the club. Olympic gold champion boxer Luke Campbell, a ‘graduate’ of the club, will also be officially named the gym’s patron at this open event, including food, drink and a fundraising auction, for which tickets are still available by calling organiser Mike Bromby on 07989 907344.
James Legal’s donation marks the latest show of support from Hull businesses which have collectively helped raise more than £230,000 towards a much-needed renovation of the club’s premises in Church Side, next to Holy Trinity cathedral in the city centre. The changes are planned to create a more fit-for-purpose training environment for its 500 members – and also help it extend its life-changing formula to more people in the East Yorkshire community, including those with disabilities.
Established in 1948, the club has turned out many boxing greats, including Luke and Commonwealth lightweight title holder Tommy Coyle. But it is its role in providing young people – some of them from socially disadvantaged and troubled backgrounds, and with learning and behavioural difficulties – with a future pathway, for which it is most respected. In fact, many successful Hull people cite St Paul’s as the cornerstone for what they have gone on to achieve.
Yet, despite this huge contribution at the hands of hugely dedicated trainer Mike Bromby and his team of volunteers, the building St Paul’s inhabits has fallen into serious disrepair.
So, he – and a committee of well-wishing local businesses, inspired by what the club has achieved – launched a major fundraising campaign in 2018, for cash to turn the historic gym into the kind of environment it deserves to be. Work will start imminently on the transformation, and the club will relocate to temporary alternative premises for six-to-seven months while it is completed.
Of the latest donation from James Legal, Mike said: “For many years, we’ve run the club on a shoestring, just surviving from year to year, but since we launched the appeal we’ve had an amazing group of people on the ground working with us to truly honour the legacy of the club and make it a fit-for-purpose space for our athletes to train in.
“Our 70 competing members represent the club, and the city, all over the world, and therefore we’re really grateful to James Legal for its generous donation to help ensure they will look the part when they do.”
Byron Swarbrick, who presented the kit on behalf of James Legal, said: “We’ve been absolutely bowled over by what St Paul’s has achieved and it’s our privilege to be able to help in any way we can.”
St Paul’s means everything to members like Naseem Stowel. He was dismissed from school when he was younger, as someone who would never amount to anything. That was because he suffered from learning difficulties ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), autism and ticks. However, boxing and joining St Paul’s has dramatically changed all that.
Naseem, from central Hull, a three-times champion in international competitions, said: “A lot of my issues were caused by excess energy – I was always really hyper and struggled to focus.
“A doctor suggested I take up a sport to help channel it, and I tried boxing and I clicked with it straightaway and really enjoyed it. Now I’ve started competing, I’m trying as hard as I can to achieve the best I can, maybe even trying for the Olympics or going professional one day.
“St Paul’s has played a big part in what I’ve achieved in life so far, because it has helped me overcome the difficulties I was experiencing, for which I was also being bullied. It has helped me prove those who didn’t believe in me wrong.”
The discipline and life skills Naseem has gained at St Paul’s have also helped him to secure a job as an administrative assistant aat a city centre firm.
If you’re inspired by what you’ve read and would like to find out how you can help, email John Rutherford.
St Paul’s Boxing Academy is the biggest amateur sports club in Hull, and was established in 1948. It was the first boxing club in the country to receive the Sport England Clubmark quality accreditation.
Its members range in age from five to 60 years, and take part for a variety of reasons, from keeping fit to socialising and learning some serious boxing skills – around 70 of them are card-carrying competitive boxers and 80 are female.
St Paul’s, which relies on the dedication of 20 regular volunteers, including 14 coaches and a catering and cleaning team of six – was awarded ‘charitable incorporated organisation’ status last Spring, to help secure its future through access to ongoing grant funding and fundraising.
Their fundraising target is £375,000. This will pay for the complete refurbishment of the gym’s interior including new showers and changing rooms, a new kitchen, the refurbishment of the interior roof space to reveal the stunning vaulted ceiling space which is currently boarded over, new heating and the creation of a glass-fronted viewing area for boxing officials and parents watching the sporting activities. The grand plan is to also widen the reach of St Paul’s, including opening it up for other community groups to use, including disabled groups.
Picture caption: (l-r): Mike Bromby, competitive boxing member, Amateur Boxing Association England welterweight champion at and Paris 2024 Olympic hopeful Harvey Lambert, our Byron and boxer Naseem Stowel