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Discover what happens inside the little wooden shed which is home to Dereham’s century-old boxing club

Outside Dereham Boxing Club 2018. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Outside Dereham Boxing Club 2018. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

Archant

Little is known about the tiny wooden building which sits unassuming, tucked away from a mid-Norfolk market town’s high street.

Dereham Boxing Club has been left on the ropes by a large rent increase on the gym
Richard Sturman, pictured
picture by Adrian Judd
for EDP Richard ParrDereham Boxing Club has been left on the ropes by a large rent increase on the gym Richard Sturman, pictured picture by Adrian Judd for EDP Richard Parr

But two nights a week it is transformed into a fully functional centre for Dereham’s boxing community.

Passersby who are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a training session will see groups of people running laps around the car park, or skipping outside the building.

And the distinct sound of a blow being knocked into a punchbag can be heard from a surprising distance.
But what is it about the sport that has earned Dereham Boxing Club its accolade of being the country’s longest running, boasting more than 100 years?

Chairman of the club, Richard Sturman, has been associated with the club for as long as he can remember and began training there as a child.

Dereham Boxing Club. Two boxers hard at work during a training session. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPDereham Boxing Club. Two boxers hard at work during a training session. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

He said: “We can trace the history of the club back to the First World War. We know it existed before that in some form or another too. We’ve been providing that service in the community for at least that length of time and as far as we know, without a gap either.”

The club, which is non-profit making, has been running from its premisses from Saint Withburga Lane for the last five years and usually has between 15 to 20 members training at any one time.

Mr Sturman said it has seen many different faces over the years, people trying their hand at the sport for all different reasons.

“It is a good outlet for young people but because it is a contact sport it gets a bad press when really it is a sport of gentlemen - it’s one of the best.

Dereham Boxing Club. Pictured is one of Dereham Boxing Club's greatest boxers, Darrell Greaves (left) during a fight with actor Lee MacDonald (right) who played Zammo McGuire in the children's TV series Grange Hill. Picture: DEREHAM BOXING CLUBDereham Boxing Club. Pictured is one of Dereham Boxing Club's greatest boxers, Darrell Greaves (left) during a fight with actor Lee MacDonald (right) who played Zammo McGuire in the children's TV series Grange Hill. Picture: DEREHAM BOXING CLUB

“You have to have discipline, acceptance to lose, train to become fitter, and learn to get up again.”

In an age where electronics and television dominate the lives of many, he added that is was important to encourage physical activity and recalled his youth when boxing was a popular pastime for many young people, predominately young men.

“Boxing was something all us lads did.

“It’s a good sport for teaching self control, self respect, and releasing energy.

Dereham Boxing Club. Max Samuel sparring in the ring with his opponent. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPDereham Boxing Club. Max Samuel sparring in the ring with his opponent. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

“Competitions are also good for learning that skill set. It’s serious stuff and you need to concentrate and be focused if you’re going to get in the ring to box.”

Some of the club’s biggest achievers include Darrell Greaves, who is also known for his fight with British actor Lee MacDonald who played Zammo McGuire in the children’s TV series Grange Hill.

Other famous names include Stevie Garner, who got to the quarter finals of the ABA nationals, and Laura knights, the first female to box for the club. She is now one of its trainers.

Also Dereham former mayor, Chris Thorne, who died in 2008 aged 51.

Dereham Boxing Club. Pictured is one of Dereham Boxing Club's greatest boxers, Stevie Garner (left) during a fight circa 1992. Picture: DEREHAM BOXING CLUBDereham Boxing Club. Pictured is one of Dereham Boxing Club's greatest boxers, Stevie Garner (left) during a fight circa 1992. Picture: DEREHAM BOXING CLUB

Before its current home, the club has previously been run from premises at Rashes Green and the former centre at what is now Cherry Tree car park.

During training sessions, participants are expected to take part activities such as skipping, bag work, technical sparring, and generally learning how to box properly.

From health benefits to learning a unique discipline, boxing attracts a variety of people from all different backgrounds.

Alex Maran, 22, is a window cleaner from Wymondham. He began boxing with Dereham Boxing Club more than a year ago when he wanted to increase his fitness.

Outside Dereham Boxing Club 2018. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPOutside Dereham Boxing Club 2018. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

“I was training at the gym and boxer Danny McIntosh came up to me and convinced me to take up a fight.”

Mr Maran was keen to try his hand at boxing and took him up on his offer.

He added: “So then I came to join a proper club.

“It’s a fun way of keeping fit and healthy. It’s also enjoyable and in a way it’s like an art form that takes time to learn.”

Dereham Boxing Club. Pictured is one of Dereham Boxing Club's greatest boxers and the first female to box for the club, Laura Knights. She is now a trainer at the club. Photo was taken circa 2013. Picture: DEREHAM BOXING CLUBDereham Boxing Club. Pictured is one of Dereham Boxing Club's greatest boxers and the first female to box for the club, Laura Knights. She is now a trainer at the club. Photo was taken circa 2013. Picture: DEREHAM BOXING CLUB

Brian Webb, 38, and his eight-year-old son Cane also box at the club together.

Mr Webb took up the sport just four weeks ago in a bid to improve his health and said his son “inspired” him to join.

Joe Berry, who is in his 70s, is a committee member and a coach and has been involved with the club for more than 44 years.

Passionate about the sport, he is able to command the room with bags of professionalism and explained how the sport will also be in his heart.

Dereham Boxing Club. Pictured is member Alex Maran. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOPDereham Boxing Club. Pictured is member Alex Maran. Picture: DONNA-LOUISE BISHOP

“I want to help the kids achieve the best that they can achieve,” he said.

“I’m not here to make everyone a world champion but to make them help themselves.

“A little bit of discipline can go a long way these days.”

This Saturday the club is hosting Fight Night 3 at the Main Event on Quebec Street.

Dereham Boxing Club. Pictured is one of Dereham Boxing Club's greatest boxers and the town's former mayor, Chris Thorne, aged here in his 20s, circa 1970. Mr Thorne died in 2008 aged 51. Picture: DEREHAM BOXING CLUBDereham Boxing Club. Pictured is one of Dereham Boxing Club's greatest boxers and the town's former mayor, Chris Thorne, aged here in his 20s, circa 1970. Mr Thorne died in 2008 aged 51. Picture: DEREHAM BOXING CLUB

Referee Jimmy McCallion will be overseeing the fight.

- For more information contact the club on Facebook or email derehamboxingclub@gmail.com.

- The first session is free and subsequent sessions are £2 for juniors and £3 for seniors. Additionally there is a £10 yearly membership. Sessions are on a Monday and Wednesday at 7pm-8.30pm. There are also sessions on Friday and Sunday.

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