Boxing boss whose life was changed by sport looking for new club owner
THE manager of a Swindon boxing club based in the town centre is looking for a capable replacement to take over ownership as he reaches retirement age.
Brian Roberts credits his first coach Paddy Burke at Park Youth Amateur Boxing Club for getting him onto the straight and narrow in the '60s before Brian Bennett of Walcot Boys Club became his youth leader in the '70s.
The 66-year-old went on to represent the South West and reach a national final then went from student to teacher, helping to set up other groups like the Liden Community Football Club, working with every boxing group in the town and starting his own because he wanted to do for other youngsters what his coaches did for him.
Brian said: "I was a bad-tempered horrible young boy who got into fights at school, so if it wasn't for those two taking me under their wings and teaching me respect, I would have been on the streets as a thug or a drug runner or something.
"They saved me and I owe it to them to keep this going, it's their legacy, but sustaining the club for the future is a real issue.
"We're paying the bills but I'm struggling to find new coaches and I'd like to pass the baton to someone younger who can take this place on and expand it.
"It's been wonderful and I've enjoyed it so much but my time here has to come to an end soon."
He worked at Horseshoe Amateur Boxing Club in Greenbridge a decade ago before starting the Brunel Amateur Boxing Club, which moved into a large empty space above Iceland five years later after spending thousands of pounds renovating it.
On August 11, he will be facing 66 rounds against his club members to fundraise for the group’s future and in August 20, the centre of Havelock Square will be roped off so the club can have exhibition matches.
There are sessions for under-10s, teens and adults. Senior sessions are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10.30am to 11.30am, where people can try sit-ups, battle ropes and sparring.
Amy Segre, 64, said: “We saw a poster four years ago and thought we would go for a laugh, and that was it. When we first started, it took ages to get up all those stairs – now we run up them!
“Brian’s the best, he’s great with everyone. It’s a nice place to be and the people are friendly."
Her friend Jean Kilford, 75, added: “I didn’t think I would like it but now it’s the best thing ever. It’s good for your health and mental well-being, it’s lovely.
“A lot of people who are sat at home with nothing to do should come up, give it a try and get fit! It’s a very safe and sociable place."
The club is also fundraising for a minibus which can take members to matches around the country during the boxing season and be shared by other Swindon community groups who might need it.