‘I felt really, really sad for all the boys and girls’ - locking Norwich Lads Club doors

Boxers and coaches at Norwich Lads Club Picture: Bruce Hughes

Boxers and coaches at Norwich Lads Club Picture: Bruce Hughes - Credit: Archant

The Norwich Lads Club has produced some of Norfolk’s top fighters.

The likes of former world champion Herbie Hide – and his son Henry – and the Walsh brothers all have their roots in the club.

But the coronavirus has taken its toll and the club is now looking for help to pay the rent, having been forced to close its doors.

“We need money to keep the club open now, ready for when our doors welcome the return of our young lads and lasses post COVID-19,” said vice-chairman Colin Bates.

“We look forward to the time when our gym can re-open, but I am also conscious that we will remain financially precarious for some time: extra help will likely be needed as many of the wage earners in our youngsters’ families might have lost their employment because of COVID-19.”

The Lads Club – founded way back in 1981 – has its gym set up in premises leased from the Hewitt School and is hoping to raise £3,000.

“We train three nights a week with separate training sessions split between youngsters/beginners and experienced boxers,” added BTES. “We have 10 coaches, men and women with over 50 years experience behind them. They train the 150 plus members some 15PC of whom are girls.

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“It is a not-for profit club run with purposefully low subscription costs to its members. We just manage to cover expenses. At Norwich Lads we are fully inclusive and for the young men and women who buy into the club’s ethos, ‘Speak True, Live Pure’, they learn the importance of friendship, belonging, commitment, dedication and family. And these are not just words. When I first visited the club just over a year ago I was immediately struck by the good behaviour, discipline, exemplary sportsmanship, but most of all the friendly care and consideration shown to one another. I could see that the club provides a safe environment for lads and lasses to keep fit and train hard. Over time I have seen friendship groups form and youngsters confidence and self esteem grow and develop.

“Now, because of COVID-19, Norwich Lads ABC doors are shut. And I felt really, really sad for all the boys and girls. Train at the gym 2 or three nights a week was for many the highlight of the week. Something they passionately looked forward to. I feel their loss.”

England Boxing have set up an initiative to help local boxing clubs raise funds to cover costs whilst our boxing gym remains closed. To help, go to www.englandboxing.org/clubs/kocovid19/