Sunderland boxing club launches its new gym as it unveils stunning Frank Styles mural

A grassroots sports club is welcoming back its boxers with the launch of its new base – complete with a Frank Styles artwork to be proud of.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 7:00 am

Sunderland East End Amateur Boxing Club has moved into a former church hall on Suffolk Street in Hendon, transforming it from a former joinery workshop into a gym fit for its members.

A chance conversation by head coach and treasurer Robbie New with the joinery firm led to it being bought, with a grant of £85,000 from Sport England and £3,500 of support lined up by now former ward Councillor Michael Mordey.

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Head coach Robbie New outside Sunderland East End ABC's Suffolk Street gym, which is now welcoming in its members following the easing of the lockdown

Robbie, who runs Alexandra Roofing, made up the rest of the total £110,000 needed for the work, including changing rooms, showers, toilets, access ramps, ceilings, floors and more, with 20 skips cleared from the 1848 building ahead of the work.

Its completion means the club, also run by fellow head coach David Robson and Michael Schofield, has its own place to call home, having held sessions in the Laburnum Cottage building in Robinson Terrace and part of the Cheers pub previously.

In addition to being kitted out inside, artist Frank was drafted in to create a mural on the front of the gym, featuring Robbie’s daughter Amelia, 15, and fellow club members Luke Thompson, 25, Jevan Murphy, 21, and Xristian Todoroww.

The club is beginning to welcome back its existing members to sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with 10 to 15-year-olds put through their paces before its older cohort take their turn.

Sunderland East End ABC now has a place to call home after Robbie New and other members of the club's leadership led a project to kit out a gym.

It plans to opens to newcomers and taster sessions and is looking at ways to make its sessions free to join in in the long term.

Robbie says the club helps bring together people of all backgrounds and instils “discipline, fitness, confidence and manners” in youngsters, while it is looking to offer up the space for other community groups to use.

Of the finished building, he said: “It’s amazing, it’s beyond words.

Frank Styles designed and created the mural on the front of Sunderland East End ABC in Suffolk Street.

"Our members who have already been in love it, and they’ve never had changing rooms, male and female toilets and facilities like that before.

"Some of our parents come from Easington and had to wait out in their car before, now they’ll be able to come in and enjoy a cup of coffee as they wait.”

Robbie had Frank in mind when the the old hall was taken on and asked him to create a piece fitting of its aspirations to lift the area and create pride in the club.

Work on the building took months to complete after it was previously used as a joinery workshop. Photo by Robbie New.

“Frank came down a while back and did a photo shoot with Luke and Jevan and my daughter and he got a photo of Xristian later on,” said Robbie.

“He said ‘What do you want?’ and I said ‘I’ll leave it to you’ and he came back with this.

"I just thought, we’ve spent all this money on the building, and I’d seen other work by Frank, and I thought our members deserve to have something special like this and so we looked at how we could afford it.

"It looks brilliant.”

Frank added: "It's always inspiring painting for people who are passionate about what they do.”

The club has also been boosted with £40,000 from sponsor Steve Johnson, of 4 Power Ltd in recent years.

Coach Robbie New said club members are delighted with the new space set up to help them train.

The club’s Facebook page can be found via https://www.facebook.com/SunderlandEastEndABC.

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A photo taken by Robbie New as work was being carried out to the building in Hendon.
The building had to be cleared before repairs and improvements could be made to turn the building into a gym. Photo by Robbie New.