Banbridge Amateur Boxing Club are hoping their new state of the art facilities will put them firmly on the Irish boxing map.
Their new home at Havelock Park was opened on Wednesday evening and club secretary Anne Murphy reckons they’ll now be able to attract international boxing to Banbridge.
“These facilities really put us on the map,” she said.
“Officials from the Irish Amateur Boxing Association came to the opening and we made the point that we want to hold international teams who come to Ireland and bring them to Banbridge.
“It was great to see those guys at the opening, supporting our club. We have all the equipment international boxers need now and we’re also in a good place geographically as we are easy to access from Dublin. We even want to get involved in training coaches.”
The completion of their new home, Anne says, will also help to improve the club’s activity within the area.
“It means a lot to us,” she said. “We can now put all our effort into boxing rather than on planning for the facility. That will be a luxury for us because for so long we have had to divide our efforts into the facility and the boxing.
“We really want it all to take off now. We want to get into schools and do more with the youth as well as with other clubs.
“Boxing is a great way to maintain fitness or to get into shape. We want to provide facilities for clubs who are looking to do something different for their pre-season training.”
Despite dividing their attention in recent years, the club has still produced winners with Dominic Doyle and Nash Beattie recently victorious in Ulster titles.
Planning for the club’s first permanent home since they reformed in 2006 began in 2010 and Murphy says its completion is thanks to the help of the Banbridge community:
“It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort that has gone on to get to this stage. The teamwork has shone through and I also have to pay tribute to the community spirit that is everywhere around Banbridge.
“We got valuable advice from other clubs in other sports who have been through similar experiences and whenever we asked anybody for anything, they did it for us.
“This building is dedicated to the community spirit that exists to help people out when you’re in a bit of a fix.”
The club are new tennants in what is fast becoming the sporting capital of Banbridge at Havelock Park.
“It’s an area which, in itself, is an inspiration,” said Murphy. “It’s a very sporty part of the town with so many different teams in a range of sports such as hockey, football, athletics, angling and now boxing. The area is also ideal for runners.”
Catriona Regan, Director of Leisure and Development at Banbridge District Council said: “We have worked in partnership with Banbridge Amateur Boxing Club over the past number of years to assist the club in turning their dream of having their own facility into reality. This new facility truly is a celebration of hard work, dedication and belief. It will provide fantastic sports development opportunities for those in the area.”