Boxing club returns to spiritual home following Tavis tragedy
- Credit: Rachel Edge
In response to a public meeting held in the wake of Tavis Spencer-Aitkens’ death, local leaders announced measures to answer community concerns.
About 300 people turned out at Nansen Road Baptist Church after the 17-year-old was fatally stabbed.
An action plan of measures included ensuring the Murrayside Centre would not be demolished.
Following a nomadic couple of years – moving between Foxhall Road Community Centre and Inspire Suffolk – Ipswich Boxing Club moved back to Murrayside, where it was recently agreed to set up a permanent ring following discussions with county council locality officer, Claire Prosser.
Secretary, Martin Cherington was surprised by the level of anger expressed during the community meeting last June.
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“We heard that youngsters didn’t have a lot to do, which I found hard to believe because, growing up, there were lots of activities, but some don’t want to get involved unless someone is pushing them,” he said.
“There had been banners and posters up for all sorts of things at this place, but I think people had their blinkers on. I was frustrated by the response and felt for the police and local authority getting abuse from some quarters.”
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Established in 1965 by Franny Peake, the club was based in the town centre before moving to Murrayside, where it currently has about 40 members, up to eight coaches at a time, and eight or nine ‘carded’ fighters. It was recently awarded £4,000 by Suffolk Community Foundation and £2,000 by the borough council.
Mr Cherington said: “We’ve been away for a year-and-a-half and it’s fantastic to be back.
“The county council was keen for us to move back, and the borough had been helping us to look for a unit for some time.
“Showing we’re part of the community made a difference.
“Our head coach is passionate about the community and we did feel it being hit. All the youngsters are local and bring their emotions to the club, including one lad who was very close to Tavis. He turned very negative but has become very positive again.
“One lad, Ishmael O’Connor, has a professional debut in March. It could have been different for him.
“We have three girls carded, which would have been unheard of a few years ago, and we have two Muslim coaches, which makes a difference in this community. It’s amazing to meet people and be told we’ve made a real difference.”