Famous boxing club is down but not out

NEEDHAM Market's dilapidated boxing club hut was finally brought to the ground at the weekend to spark much nostalgia amongst those that have created and enjoyed the rural club's famous New York style atmosphere.

Stuart Watson

NEEDHAM Market's dilapidated boxing club hut was finally brought to the ground at the weekend to spark much nostalgia amongst those that have created and enjoyed the rural club's famous New York style atmosphere.

Leading the tributes was Suffolk's most successful boxer David Starie who, after first training at the gym at the age of 11, went on to become a Commonwealth and British super middleweight champion.

“I've got so many fond memories of training there. There was always a great atmosphere. It always felt like a real boxing gym,” said the 33 year-old.

“It's hard to explain to someone who hasn't experienced it, but it had that aura. It oozed sweat, blood and tears. Every time you walked into the place you could feel the pain the people had been through in there.

“I've trained in some New York gyms, including the Bronx, and Needham has the exact same feel about it. It has the same feeling of hard working people with aspirations and goals.”

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It may be the end of an era for the 28 year-old club, which is known officially as Hurstlea Kerridge, but it is not the end of the journey as a raft of grants totalling £45,000 have enabled a more structurally sound gym to be built in its place on the same site.

The club - known as Hurstlea Kerridge - was first started 28 years ago by renowned trainer in the area Barry James, who helped transport the old venue, an old school hut from Framlingham, to Needham.

And, after the club not only produced Starie but also Steve Spartacus, Barry James has now passed on the reins to his son Keith who is continuing the club's tradition of opening its doors for next to nothing and giving up his time for free.

Starrie said: “Everything I achieved in boxing was down to Barry James and Hurstlea Boxing Club.”

“I was a working class lad that had never been abroad until Barry put my name forward for an American scholarship at the age of 15.

“I would like to know how many unpaid hours Barry spent on me. If he had put his efforts into making money from coaching instead of training me for nothing he would certainly be a much richer man. He could easily have gone off to London and become a professional trainer but he didn't.

“That club has played a massive part in the majority of the lives of youngsters of Needham Market because most of them have been up there at one time or another. It gives them something else to do rather than hanging around on street corners.

“I personally owe Barry and the club a huge gratitude and I think so do the people of Needham Market.

“It was quite emotional being up there when the building started coming down but I am certain the knew building will quickly build up its own memories over the next 30 years and hopefully will be talking about more champions emerging from the club.”

The club, which still needs to raise an extra £15,000 in order to fully finish the new steel structure, is hoping to open its doors once again in four weeks time when, once again, a free six week period of junior coaching will begin for those that are interested.

Factfile

David Starie

Age: 33

Born: Bury St Edmunds

Job: Firefighter

In 1998 Starie became both the Commonwealth and British super middleweight champion after victories over Clinton Woods and Ali Forbes respectively.

In 2000 Starie only lost to Joe Calzaghe on points after taking him the full 12 rounds.

In 2003 he vacated his Commonwealth and British titles after losing on points to Andre Thysse.

Announced his retirement in 2003 after losing on points to Sven Ottke in a bout for the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Federation's super middleweight titles.

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