Sheffield boxing club gets back on its feet

Lower Manor Gym is officially opened with the help of Cllr Terry Fox and boxer Kel Brook
Lower Manor Gym is officially opened with the help of Cllr Terry Fox and boxer Kel Brook
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A boxing gym which nurtures Sheffield’s sporting stars of tomorrow showed true fighting spirit after being targeted by criminals.

Lower Manor club was left devastated after burglars ransacked the facility and made off with equipment in February.

Coaches Chris Smedley and Steve Barnes pulled no punches when adding up how much it would take to get the gym back on its feet after the ceiling was ripped down and toilets were smashed up.

But with the help of the local community and Sheffield business Galatia, the Prince of Wales Road club is back in business - and busier than ever.

The youngsters who attend are reaping the benefits of new changing rooms and showers and the club has cemented its place at the heart of the local community.

Chris, who has been a trainer for 16 years, said: “When the gym was vandalised, we were told it would take £100,000 to get everything up and running.

“Steve and I grafted to get some basics done but we just wouldn’t have been able to do it all ourselves.”

Repair firm Galatia, part of an Acis Willmott Dixon Partnership, donated £25,000 and the time of its employees to bring the gym back up to scratch.

And the refurbishment helped to attract 35 new club members in just one week.

To mark the success, homegrown hero Kell Brook, the Junior Middleweight World Championship contender who trained under Steve for six years, paid a visit to the venue.

Chris said: “The new changing rooms and showers are top class, and it’s wonderful to have the heating working again - it’s fantastic.”

Steve said: “All the work the volunteers have done to turn this gym around has made it possible for people to start using the gym again.

“This gym serves as a life source for the local community. With our new facilities, we can provide a place where youngsters can get off the streets and learn new skills.

“Boxing has the potential to teach important life lessons.”