For more than 100 years, Bognor Regis Amateur Boxing Club has been part of the town.
It is one of the oldest organisations in Bognor – and the oldest boxing club in Sussex by far.
Our most senior coach, and an England Boxing official, David Larner, has been a part of the club for 65 years, having first boxed there as a youngster.
All of our coaching team are fully trained and qualified England Boxing coaches and as a non-profit organisation we give our spare time free of charge.
This means training the youngsters at the club and taking boxers to open shows and larger tournaments.
Even the seemingly simple task of matchmaking our boxers can take several hours each week, and it’s safe to say we are a highly motivated and dedicated team.
During its lifetime the club has enjoyed and created some real success stories. It has also endured its share of tough times, not least during two world wars.
We are proud to be an organisation that has given much to local youngsters for so long.
Boxing offers them an opportunity to be a part of a team whose focus is upon manners, discipline, self-respect and respect for others.
It keeps them off games consoles, away from street corners and perhaps out of trouble too. Boxers come from all different backgrounds, fortunate and less fortunate but there are no barriers here.
We also have kids who struggle with school, perhaps do not have the most stable home life and even suffer the symptoms of ADHD.
We’ve witnessed first-hand how kids can have their lives turned around by boxing, a well-documented phenomenon. This is one of the things that make a coach’s job so rewarding.
Since its beginnings, Bognor ABC has survived with little financial input from the weekly subs the boxers pay and in recent years, the local Rotary Club has kindly helped a little. However times have changed and running the club to its full potential is becoming difficult.
Amateur boxing clubs across Britain are becoming more frequently supported by a sponsor or sponsors, much like other amateur sports.
Along with lots of boxing clubs ,we have experienced a rise in running costs. There are annual costs of England Boxing affiliation, boxers’ medicals, England Boxing ‘vault’ registration for coaches and boxers, coaches’ lanyards and insurances.
Coaches require regular first-aid training, DBS checks and child welfare training. There is the cost of replacing equipment as it wears out, such as gloves, punchbags, ropes, focus pads, head guards, club kit and competition wear.
We have a seven-seat vehicle to travel to shows and across the country for sparring. That needs to be insured, fuelled and maintained. Then the cost of renting our gym.
Sometimes we are putting hands in our own pockets or asking for small input from our boxers.
As the club enjoys more success some of these costs increase and we are now enjoying fruitful times with our boxers.
We have an international Box Cup gold medallist, national and regional title holders and some top-level elite senior boxers.
In September we are sending a four-strong team to compete in Ireland in an international tournament. For the club to best serve these boxers and our other young prospects, support from a sponsor-sponsors is essential.
Boxers of this calibre need to take part in international competitions and national championships, but these events are costly. Our higher-ability boxers struggle to find appropriate competitive sparring locally so this means lots of weekend travelling with accompanying costs.
You may ask “What do clubs do if they cannot afford these things?” Sadly the answer is that boxers miss opportunities, which will halt their progress and limit their future in the sport. If they don’t hit certain goals the big stuff won’t happen for them.
Of course lots of amateur clubs don’t have boxers of a very high standard – but Bognor ABC are lucky that we do have some high-performing kids, testimony to the dedication of our boxers and coaching team.
So what does a sponsor get in return from Bognor ABC?
The sponsor or sponsors will be announced in the press. All training and competition clothing will display their business details and the business will be mentioned and promoted frequently.
Bognor ABC and some of its boxers have a strong social media presence which reaches many thousands of followers. Regular mention and grateful thanks will be given on all platforms, including from time to time England boxing platforms. In addition a part of our five year plan is to hold regular open tournaments.
A sponsor or sponsors will be advertised on banners and so on at these events. But we are aiming to return to our glory days and there is much more to come too.
Feel free to contact me, the club’s lead coach, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if this interests you. I’ll be very happy to answer any questions you have and can arrange for you to visit the gym and meet the coaches and boxers.
* Paul Mason is an England Boxing coach, matchmaker and chief welfare officer at Bognor Regis ABC