Norfolk fight scene says goodbye to the Kickstop Gym – and all its memories

Graham Everett tapes up Sam Sexton ahead of sparring at the Kickstop Gym. Sexton is preparing for a

Graham Everett tapes up Sam Sexton ahead of sparring at the Kickstop Gym. Sexton is preparing for a British heavyweight title fight against Gary Cornish in Scotland next month. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Archant

Tucked away on an industrial estate on Norwich's Whiffler Road is a building which has proved an unlikely setting for some of the country's top boxers.

Brothers Liam, centre, and Ryan Walsh at the Kickstop Gym, with Graham Everett. Picture: Nick Butche

Brothers Liam, centre, and Ryan Walsh at the Kickstop Gym, with Graham Everett. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The Kickstop Gym has a loo, but no showers; there's a ring tucked in the corner, a row of heavy bags chained to iron girders and visitors always crane their necks to look at its famous wall, covered in big-fight posters.

They reveal the names of Norfolk's boxing elite, past and present.

The Walsh brothers, Liam, Ryan and Michael, are up there, so is Sam Sexton, alongside former heavyweight world champion Herbie Hide, Jon Thaxton, Earl 'Wild Thing' Ling. At the crown is Mike Tyson, the man on whom so many boxers model their moves.

The Kickstop has been home from home for Everett for more than 20 years; Thaxton learned the noble art here as he went on to win British, European and WBF crowns and is now earning his training spurs alongside his former mentor.

Jon Thaxton in his fighting days, training with Graham Everett. Picture: Archant

Jon Thaxton in his fighting days, training with Graham Everett. Picture: Archant - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk.


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But gone are the days of one, maybe two, big names in local boxing: now there are multiple champions under Everett's wing as the sport in Norfolk enjoys a growth that reflects the national picture. Local shows are a staple of the diet, with borders opened into Suffolk and Ipswich, fast making Norwich an East Anglian centre of excellence.

Change is inevitable, which is why on Saturday morning a new era begins as Everett and Co head to new premises in the grounds of the Hewett Academy in Norwich.

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Everett will be in partnership with current occupants Norwich Lads Club, forming 'Norwich Lads Club Pro Box Norwich'.

'They approached me just over a year ago,' said Everett. 'I didn't think for one minute I would do it, but I sat down with the people from the lads club a few months ago and they won me over.

'There is massive history here with over 20 years and it has been a great story and we have had a lot of success, a lot of championship success and it has been brilliant.

'But everything comes to an end. A lot of people don't like change – I am one of them – but it is just an opportunity I had to take.

'I spoke to all the boys about it and everybody is looking forward to the move now. It will be a really good gym – it has two full size rings and it is very big, very spacious.

'Maybe this is a chance to take what we do up to another level.'

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