YOUNG boxers proudly showed off their new skills when Ribble Valley’s only boxing club held a public open day.
Members of Ribble Valley Fitness Centre and Amateur Boxing Club put on, along with their coaches and volunteer helpers, displays of sparring and fitness training both inside and outside the gym in Mearley Street, Clitheroe, all day on Saturday.
Visitors were encouraged to have a go on the training equipment free of charge
The event culminated in an evening ceremony when the Mayor of Ribble Valley, Coun Ian Sayers, presented club awards and Coun Bill Alker presented a Community Engagement Award in recognition of the club’s work in promoting physical fitness, sporting values and respect among young people.
Coach Mohammed Sirtaj, who is known as Taj, said: “We had a fantastic response. A lot more people came than we ever expected. We’ll probably make it an annual event now. We were glad that the Mayor came to see what we do at the club and our members really appreciated his support.”
Taj (34), who teaches boxing at GCSE level in schools, founded the club with his father, Mr Mohammed Sarfraz, and is helped by brother Ihsan (19), a rising star on the amateur boxing scene.
Taj said: “When you talk about boxing, a lot of people think about the ‘Rocky’ films, bloody noses and people battering each other, but that’s a wrong impression. We’re the only club in the Ribble Valley registered with the Amateur Boxing Association of England. We’re at the grassroots level of Olympic competition.
“Boxing is a sport that gets people fit and keeps young people off the streets and out of trouble. Our members don’t even need to box if they don’t want to. They can just use the gym to get fit and lose weight.”
The club is not just for boys and young men. Adults into their 50s use it for training, and more young women are starting to get involved. Taj said: “We provide a service to the community and a lot of parents and volunteers have come along to offer their time and help out. It’s a gym that people like to consider their own.”
At the presentation, Boxing Skills awards were handed to William Robinson, who was also the club’s Young Boxer of the Year, Pierce Young, Finlay Young, Bradley Hamer, Toby Hamer, Siraj Sirtaj, Brendan Robson, Milo Ronchetti, Steven Wilmot, Scott Lownsbrough, Ethan Tattersall, Jude Holmes, Kacey Mae Knowles, Curtis Magee, Charlie Smith, Jack Bullock and Brad Rushton.