Stepping into the new boxing gym on the first floor of the Ebrington Centre is like walking on to a movie set.
Rochester ABC is a new amateur boxing club in the Waterside and with their state of the art training facilities ready to go they will open their doors to the public tomorrow evening.
Club president, Nigel Hagon, has over 30 years boxing experience, of which 24 years was spent coaching amateur boxers.
“There’s a real buzz about the place - everyone is really excited,” said Nigel.
“We have only been in existence for the last two months so it’s a work in progress. All of our coaches are currently in the process of working towards the qualifications they need to coach young children in a safe environment.
“We’d hope to be able to open our doors to the kids before the end of the summer,” he said.
Rochester ABC are under the auspices of the County Derry Amateur Boxing Board and Nigel said they are keen to hear from anyone interested in boxing.
“I live in the local area and I know there’s an interest in boxing here. There hasn’t been a place like this for kids and adults to train in the Waterside for a long time.
“This is a boxing club for the local community so no matter what part of the community you are from, if you are interested in boxing we want to hear from you.”
Club secretary, Martyn Mancini, first started boxing when he was nine years-old; Martyn will celebrate his 52nd birthday later this year.
Martyn is a well experienced boxing coach and is also a qualified referee. He helped to set-up a boxing club in Warwick several years ago.
“The head coach of our boxing club in England was Jackie Turpin and he was Randolph Turpin’s brother and I am sure the people of Derry will remember Randolph as World Middleweight Champion,” said Martyn.
“Like Nigel said, we are really excited about what’s happening here and we owe a lot of thanks to the people in the community who have helped to make this happen. Waterside Taxis have been behind us from the very start.”
Martyn, who lives close to the Ebrington Centre, explained one of the main reason he and others decided to set-up a boxing club was because there was nothing in the Waterside area for the young children to do.
“I think I am right in saying that this is the first amateur boxing club to be set-up in over 30 years,” he said.
“There are a few youth centres and football clubs but there’s nothing really different for the young people here. I know for a fact that a good number of the young people in the Waterside want to learn how to box and that’s what we are here to do.
“We want to hear from anyone with an interest in boxing; male or female - as long as you want to learn the basics of boxing or maybe you just want to use the sport to get fit - we want to hear from you.”
He added: “Everyone thinks boxing is all about hitting your opponent but it’s not. It’s about self-discipline and looking after yourself. We expect dedication from everyone who comes here because there’s not much point in coming to learn the basics of boxing if you are not working on your fitness outside of training times,” said Martin.
Martyn echoed Nigel’s belief that the club will go from strength to strength when they are able to accept children as members.
“Young people are the future of any sport. It doesn’t matter if it’s boxing or football - you need young people to keep it going.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to start accepting young people into the gym before the end of the summer. When it does happen, we’d be delighted if parents wanted to get involved with helping out too. This is an amateur boxing club and all of the coaches here are giving up their time on a volunteer basis - no one is taking a wage. We are doing this because we believe the community will benefit from it,” he said.
Training for adults at Rochester ABC takes place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8pm to 9pm. For more information on Rochester ABC contact Martyn Mancini on 07740486994