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Amateur Scene: Walkden ABC stage their first show

Matt Bozeat speaks to Jamie Moore and Charlotte Gilley about new club Walkden ABC

JAMIE Moore will be proud when Walkden ABC stage their first show this month. Moore, the former British and European super-welterweight champion, grew up in the town in the city of Salford and will be there when the club hold a show at Ellesmere Shopping Centre on Sunday, January 30.

Moore set up the club with Charlotte Gilley. Gilley is the founder of the Maverick Stars Trust and Moore says Walkden ABC is all down to her persistence.

Moore said, “I had this idea for about six years for setting up a gym where I grew up.

“There had never been an amateur boxing club there.

“I went to Little Hulton ABC from the ages of 13 to 20 when I turned pro, but within a couple of years it shut down because they kept putting the rent up.

“There are lots of problems here. There is a lot of anti-social behaviour and I thought a boxing gym is what was needed.

“There are so many success stories from boxing gyms that people never hear about.

“There are so many people who went to boxing gyms and felt the benefits in their lives.

“I thought: ‘If there was a club where the kids who were causing problems could go we could change hundreds of lives over the next few decades.’

“We had massive problems. The police thought a gym might cause more problems with people coming from different areas and the council blocked it.

“Three years ago, Charlotte asked me to be a patron for the charity she had set up and asked if there was an amateur gym in my area.

“I told her I kept hitting a brick wall and anyway I was very busy with the pros.

“I didn’t really have the time. I had a gym full of top pros who needed my time and Charlotte said she would do it all for me, go to the meetings and deal with all the paperwork.”    

Gilley remembers Moore telling her: “Good luck – but you’ve got no chance.”

But convinced of the good boxing can do, she stuck at it. Gilley says boxing “changed me as a person.” She said: “A friend of mine invited me to Timperley Amateur Boxing Club and I found training there helped with my anxiety and depression.

“I ended up competing myself just before I was 40.

“I wanted to push myself.

“I lost, but I lost to a good boxer. She went on to win the Haringey Box Cup.

“The important thing for me was, I had faced my fear and it had a huge impact on me. It changed me as a person.”

Gilley decided to give back to boxing. “I was talking to the coach and he was telling me how hard it was to get support,” she said. “He wanted to extend the gym and I decided to help.

“I realized the battles these clubs face. We raised £500,000 to get the extension built and I thought other clubs must need help as well.

“I met more and more boxing people and wanted to help them. My accountant told me to open a charity if I wanted to help out, so that’s what I did.”

Maverick Stars backs several clubs and fighters and Moore says Walkden ABC has a special place in Gilley’s affections because “it is her club”.

Head coach is Danny Wright, who was a 10-0 pro before a failed medical ended his career. He also won the Elite light-welterweight title in 2016 before turning pro with Steve Wood, was in the corner last month when Alfie Middlemiss, the son of former Coronation Street actor Phil, and Coley Rimmer became the first boxers to represent Walkden ABC.

Middlemiss and Rimmer could both be matched on the club’s show this month.

The public can watch the action for free, Moore saying: “The idea is that the whole community can come along and see what the gym is all about.”

Moore says the club currently has 20 boxers carded and added: “I’m there at the gym a lot of the time because I love being around the kids and passing on what I’ve learned.

“We have made the subs as cheap as possible so we can get as many people in the gym as possible.

“The emphasis is on getting them off the streets. We want to create a good place for them to go.”

NEW YEAR’S HONOURS

Gongs for McCracken, Yafai and Price

OLYMPIC gold medallists Galal Yafai and Lauren Price, as well as GB performance director Rob McCracken have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours list.

McCracken received an MBE after London 2012 and in 2022 he’s been awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire). It marks the historic achievement of the GB programme under his tenure. Their squad of boxers won six medals at the Tokyo Olympics, the best result for a British boxing team in a hundred years. McCracken has been GB performance director for a decade. In that time the GB squad has amassed 89 medals at 28 major competitions between November 2010 and August 2021. It includes 14 medals (six gold, four silver and four bronze) at three editions of the Olympic Games.

Yafai and Price were the stars of British boxer at the Tokyo Games, winning gold medals in style (for Boxing News they were the male and female amateur boxers of the year).

“Being an Olympic champion has been a dream of mine since childhood, sitting in my living room with my nan and grandad at eight years of age and seeing Kelly Holmes win gold. It inspired me to be out every night of the week training or playing sport,” Price said. “All that work at that level is what has got me to where I am today.  That and the support of my nan and grandad.  I am getting the rewards now, getting an MBE from the Queen is special.  Sometimes I need to pinch myself.”

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