The Sunderland boys club which packed a real punch in the late 70s

Pennywell Boys Club  in 1979.
Pennywell Boys Club in 1979.
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Jack Wilson was a man with a plan in 1979.

He wanted to do something to help the youngsters of Sunderland who had nowhere to play except hanging around on the street.

Teaching the boys to box in 1979.

Teaching the boys to box in 1979.

He believed a boys club in Pennywell would take off just as long as he could get one started. And not only that - a part of his proposal was to teach boys how to box.

His story featured in the Sunderland Echo and attracted the backing of two men who really did want to help him out.

And that’s when chief boxing coach Mick Gettins and secretary and treasurer Jack Byers entered the scene.

The result was the Pennywell, Ford and South Hylton Boys Club which was about to move into a new purpose-built clubhouse in Pickering Road.

It means an idea has been turned into reality and 40 lads now turn up for training every night

Jack Wilson, 1979

Who remembers it? Who remembers what a hit it was?

Back in 79, Jack Wilson told the Echo: “It means an idea has been turned into reality and 40 lads now turn up for training every night.”

The club certainly produced results. At 16, Tony Austin had captained an all-England team of boxers and one all but one of his 17 bouts in a season at the time.

The lovely little club became reality after Jack’s plan first featured in our Success Story series of articles.

A session on the punchbag.

A session on the punchbag.

It was so impressive, it attracted £40,000 in grants from the Government’s urban aid programme, as well as a Sports Council grant of £200 for boxing equipment.

Dozens of offers of help with finance, gear and advice had been given closer to home.

But we want to hear from the very people who used the club in those great early days.

Were you a member and what did you love about it? Who were your friends and did you do well at boxing?

Or was it just the cameraderie that you went along for?

Whatever your story, get in touch and tell us more.

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk and share your memories of the Jack Wilson dream which became a reality.