SYNWELL Amateur Boxing Club may have come a long way since it was founded 60 years ago, but the ethos has always remained the same.
Spotting several young boys fighting while playing football on Synwell playing fields in 1951, Nobby Clark decided the best way to stop them getting into trouble was by starting the boxing club in Wotton, which is now going as strong as ever in its diamond year.
While the emphasis of the club is on involvement and enjoyment, they have enjoyed a lot of success and chairman Chris Pearce believes that will continue long into the future.
The club bought the Wotton cinema in 1965 and they use the room upstairs as their training headquarters, with youngsters and seniors training every Monday and Wednesday.
It was refurbished this year with new equipment, a far cry from the early training sessions at the Synwell British Legion Hut when long wooden seating forms were put together to make up the ring and the boxers used worn out gloves.
However, Pearce said: “It has always been the same friendly club.”
“If the boys want to have a go they can and we’ve never thrown anyone out.
“We want to keep young lads involved in boxing rather than fighting on the street.
“We teach them self defence but you never see anyone in boxing get in trouble on the street and if they did they’d be thrown out straight away.”
David Frape won several titles while at Synwell in the 60s before moving north of the border and he fought in two internationals for Scotland in 1968 which were screened on the BBC, losing to England’s Max Smith and Alexei Kiselev of Russia.
Since the turn of the century, Synwell’s Duncan Cottier became the ABA English light welterweight novice champion before moving to London, where he became a professional.
In 2005, Greig Lee represented Synwell and Western Counties in the ABA semi-finals, only to lose on a cut to his head to Tony Bellew, who has since turned professional and won the light-heavyweight Commonwealth title last year, before suffering his first defeat to Nathan Cleverly in the WBO light heavyweight clash earlier this month.
Of the current bunch, Jake Heal has shone and reached the semi-finals of the Clubs for Young People (CYP) Championships in the last two years.
Pearce said: “It is fantastic to see the lads come off the streets from nothing and have success.
“Greig Lee came to us as a ten-year-old, became a heavyweight and almost won the English title. Things like that are fantastic.”
Pearce followed in the footsteps of his older brother and started boxing at the club in 1957 before helping to take training and he says he will “be there until I die.”
He has played a key role in keeping the club going since becoming chairman 30 years ago and still helps take training, but he has kept the traditions from Clark, who was a big inspiration on him.
He added: “I have got young coaches to make sure they will carry it on after me.”
Boxers from Synwell regularly compete across the country and the club holds their own shows twice a year.
Their next event is at Lister Hall in Dursley on Saturday, November 12. Tickets cost £7 for adults and £4 for under-15s on the door.