FOX ABC is having to rebuild. The building that housed the club was destroyed in a fire. The gym lost everything, its premises, its equipment and all its trophies and memorabilia.
Jimmy Lewis started the club more than 40 years ago and it will continue, but must now find a new property where they can set up again, one which they would also have to refurbish with new equipment.
Anthony Crolla, the now retired former world champion, still volunteers as a coach at the club. He told Boxing News about the impact the club had on him.
“Since the day I turned professional, I’ve always gone there two or three times a week,” Crolla said. “I was there from the age of 10, just before I was 11. I’ve been there ever since.
“We were only a small club but Jimmy Lewis has over 40 years of service to the club. It’s amazing what he’s done… He’s given a big part of his life to helping the community. What he does has changed a lot of young lads for the better.
“He’s had one of the very biggest impacts on my life because obviously I started off with him and was with him right through to the day I turned. Even now I’m still with him three times a week.”
Crolla was a world champion, who sold out the Manchester Arena numerous times, fought Jorge Linares (twice) and Vasiliy Lomachenko. Now he helps out at Joe Gallagher’s gym, a stable full of elite world-level professionals, but he will still coach regularly at Fox.
“I suppose it is nice to give a bit back but I get great satisfaction out of it as well,” he said. “I love the sport. I’ve loved the sport since being 10 years old. I get the Boxing News and I’d look forward to it every Friday. I’d start from the back, reading it from the amateurs. I don’t love the sport any less but I don’t miss that [competing himself] side of it.”
The incident with the fire will be investigated. “It’s just very, very sad,” Anthony said. “I’m gutted for the kids.”
They are looking for a new location to set up again. The club is raising funds here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/rebuilding-of-fox-abc. They stated, “I know times are hard at the minute with the Covid 19 situation but if anyone could be kind enough to help us I’m any way big or small we will be forever grateful. The money donated toward this cause will go towards the rebuilding of the club, buying new kit, gloves, pads, head guards and bags etc. for the kids to use. By doing so you will be helping us keep kids off the streets causing themselves and other people trouble, at the same time helping us turn out champions for the local area. Thanks from all at The Fox.”
Sunderland East End ABC has also been affected by a fire. The club has received a host of offers to help clean up the building and make it ready for use when the club re-opens after this coronavirus outbreak. The gym that’s open five nights a week in the Hendon area of the city has been working to raise vital funds to help pay for the repairs.
Lambton Street in mourning, while Pinewood will continue Les Stevens’ legacy
THE COVID 19 pandemic is taking a terrible toll on the amateur boxing community. Lambton Street is mourning the death of coach John Pollock. He was 72 years old.
“Along with myself, John was frequently there six days a week doing whatever he could to help,” said head coach Gary Bunting. “He was a very good coach and a lovely guy.”
“John would never say ‘no’. Whenever you asked for his help, you always got it,” Bunting continued. “He always had time for everyone and treated everyone who stepped through the doors in the same way and with the same amount of respect.
“It’s come as such a shock because he was in really great shape. Often he would stop to help out people struggling in his fitness classes, even though he was in his 70s and they were in their 20s.”
John’s son, David, has launched a Just Giving fundraising page in his dad’s memory with proceeds going to Lambton Street. They’ve raised over £2500, with David also running a sponsored marathon on April 27. Their fundraising page is here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/johnpollock.
Tributes have continued to be paid to Les Stevens, Pinewood’s great coach, who also died after contracting coronavirus.
“Dad always told me how proud of boxing for his country 17 times made him feel,” his son Les junior said. “He had never been abroad before boxing and he told me it was the best time of his life, travelling all over the world.
“It was the happiest period of his boxing career and he went on to have 28 pro fights, winning 23.
“He did take many England squads abroad over the years, as well as looked after Home Counties squads and he gave so much to boxing.”
Current England coach Mick Driscoll knew him well. “He had so much respect from everyone and I never heard him say a bad word against anyone. He was a gentle giant,” Driscoll said. “Every single year when you went to Schools or Junior shows, Les would be there studying and looking at the boxers, whether there was a Pinewood boxer there or not.
“He had a vast knowledge of the sport that he was always so willing to pass on to others and he has trained some top-class amateur boxers.”
Pinewood plan to continue his legacy. They have set up a fundraising page to help the club get through this period of lockdown. That can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ma-dad.
Popular Dagenham coach Billy Graydon was laid to rest on May 1. He had been coaching at the club for 20 years. “Billy was such a gentle, funny and witty man, with some fantastic stories,” said fellow Dagenham Coach Dan O’Sullivan. “Rest in peace Billy – we know he’ll be surrounded by his old pals, and reunited with his lovely wife – and we send the sincerest of condolences to all the family at this sad time.”