By Jack Bradshaw
Britain can boast a sterling amateur boxing record, with the likes of Amir Khan, James DeGale and even the enigmatic Audley Harrison all winning Olympic gold medals in recent years.
So with 2012 fast approaching, a new generation of aspiring youngsters will be aiming to emulate their sporting heroes at the London Games.
Yet despite British success in both the amateur and professional divisions, boxing is still a sport which seems largely unavailable to the general public.
It remains a tabooed sport, with relatively few boxing clubs readily available in comparison to those for the likes of football, cricket and rugby.
Fortunately for local Brighton youngsters, City College Brighton & Hove (CCBH) has bucked the trend and created a set of world-class boxing facilities, including an Olympic-sized ring.
Having opened the centre at the start of the school year in September, the course gained national recognition when it became one of just six colleges in England to be designated a ‘High Performance Boxing Centre’.
Lewis Pendleton, a national development manager for the Amateur Boxing Association, said: “The college was chosen because of its academic strengths and showing a clear commitment to amateur boxing. They’ve developed fantastic new boxing facilities here that are going to be second to none.”
“The college has got the ability to deliver on both an educational and sporting level, giving young boxers in Brighton a real hope and aspiration to go as far as they want to go” – Lewis Pendleton
Each high performance centre has a full-time coach leading the programme. At CCBH, this is former three-time Southern Counties Amateur Boxing champion, Adam Haniver.
“The focus here is on developing the students not only as boxers but as academic athletes,” Adam said. “The students have absolutely taken to it. They don’t have to pay like at a club. By 9am on a Tuesday I’ll already have a big group of them here working out.”
Luke Batstone, an aspiring young boxer targeting a spot at London 2012, said: “The course [an Advance Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence] is perfect because I’m also getting to study, and get good grades, if I fail to take the boxing as far as I want. The facilities are really good here – it’s all state-of-the-art.”
Female contender, Raven Chapman, added: “It’s great because you learn about tactics, health and safety, diet and nutrition and the science behind it all as well.”
Lack of grassroots funding is an area much criticised in sports, particularly of late – but the creation of High Performance Centres like CCBH is a significant step towards creating a legacy for boxing in Britain.
Photos courtesy of City College Brighton & Hove.
For more information on this course and others, contact 01273 667788 or go to http://www.ccb.ac.uk