CRUMLIN BOXING CLUB, the gym UFC star Conor McGregor first walked into as a fresh-faced 12-year-old, is now struggling for funding.
McGregor started out in combat sports as an amateur boxer at the gym in Dublin but eventually moved into mixed martial arts.
The gym, originally founded in the 1930s, is still run by head coach Phil Sutcliffe who also revealed to Boxing News that some of McGregor’s family still train there.
“His mother and his sister are still at the club here, they train almost every day doing a keep-fit class in the mornings. We do those classes to try and fund the boxing club because we find it very hard to fund it,” he told us.
“We’re trying to keep our children here and take them on boxing trips to Birmingham and Liverpool but the funds are not there. A lot of the kids who come here, their parents don’t work so they can hardly pay their weekly subs.
“We get an odd grant here and there for equipment but we need some sponsors. We’re from a very marginalised area, a lot of the people around here don’t work, there’s no jobs. The economy is picking up a bit but we don’t feel it here in the boxing club.”
The club puts on as many shows as it can in a bid to drive up revenue but, like so many across the UK, does not get enough people buying tickets.
However McGregor’s success – the Irishman is earning millions as one of the UFC’s cash cows – is also seen as a success for the Crumlin gym by Sutcliffe, who hopes more youngsters can follow in Conor’s footsteps.
“We try and get people to buy tickets to our boxing shows as well, we fund our club through shows and subscriptions and the subs are very bad. It’s very, very difficult.
“It’s got very bad in the last few years because there’s very few people coming to the shows. You put on 80 bouts, that’s 160 boys boxing in a day and you wouldn’t make 300 Euros on the door.
“You can imagine how difficult it is, but it’s great to see someone like Conor come out of that and become a millionaire – that’s what we strive for, for our kids. That’s what we want for the children that come through the door, they’re all given the same opportunity as Conor.
“Coming from nothing, coming from the Crumlin gym, to be a world superstar, that’s what Conor’s done.”
More information on the club and how to get in touch can be found on its Facebook page.