From humble beginnings Wearmouth Boxing Club is growing into a bustling stable, nurturing potential champions of the future.
Dozens of youngsters of all ages pack themselves into a tight, converted former church on Dean Terrace, Southwick, on week nights hoping to emulate heroes of years gone by.
Plastered on the walls above the former altar are murals of Mike Tyson, one the world’s greatest, but a little closer to home the figure of former British welterweight title challenger Glenn Foot, one of Sunderland’s most famous fighting sons, looms large in the shadows, watching the rookies’ every move.
Coach Anth Kelly is hopeful one or two in the ranks can make a little bit of history of their own over the next few years.
Kelly is one of the club’s founding fathers alongside pals and family members Joe Donkin, Steven Donkin, Steve McLane and Michael Hunter, who were all former amateur boxers of some repute themselves.
To walk in now you’d think the place had been established for years.
In fact, despite having had boxers take part in more than 250 bouts to date, they made their fighting debut less than four years ago.
This view of the club, based a stones throw from the Queen Alexandra Bridge, smack bang in the middle of the city’s former industrial heartlands around the Wear, is a long way from where the club started out.
Coach Kelly, explains: “When we first started out we didn’t have much money, no big investor, only a pipe dream that one day we would open up our own boxing club.
“It all started for us in a shed in an allotment in Redhouse.
“Things have come a long way since those days.
“We moved from there to a room we rented in Fitness 2000 gym in Roker Avenue and eventually to Southwick in November 2015.
“We love the sport, we always have.
“As kids we got so much enjoyment out of the sport of boxing.
“And we all knew we wanted to give something back.”
And give something back the lads have, as scores of kids of all ages, men and women rock up, week after week to take part in the club’s structured sessions for those keen to be involved in the boxing game, as well as those wanting to use the sport for fitness.
“We wanted kids to get the same enjoyment out of boxing that we had growing up,” continued Kelly.
“And you just never know, with the right attitude, we could end up growing a champion or two from here.”
One of those could well be youngster Adam Reichard.
The 16-year-old is club captain and has been selected on the England Talent Pathway, a national program designed to cherry-pick the brightest young talents in the sport.
Reichard will fight in the club’s upcoming dinner show at the Roker Hotel on April 13.
“It is because of lads like Adam that we wanted to start this gym,” said Kelly.
“We felt like we wanted to help them along, and give them the opportunity to progress and fulfil their potential.
“This is all about the kids and their futures. Lads like Adam are the future of Wearmouth Boxing Club.”
Tickets for the event can be purchased by contacting Micky Hunter on 07960449652 or by calling into the club direct.
They are priced at £40, including a three course meal, with the boxing starting at 8.30pm.