MP visits Benwell Victoria as part of boxing advocacy project

May 5, 2023 | by Matt Halfpenny


Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah recently visited local gym Benwell Victoria ABC along with England Boxing staff Ross Wilkinson (TTW Club Support Officer), Alys Ball (TTW EB Community Apprentice) and Avoen Perryman (Head of Operations).

It is one of several club visits by local MPs that have been taking place in the past few months as part of an advocacy project to build support for grassroots amateur boxing – and to ensure it has a prominent position in the government’s upcoming sports strategy.

The gym itself is located above a social club where it hosts regular boxing shows throughout the year to help fundraise the work that it delivers.

Karl, Benwell Victoria ABC volunteer, showed the EB staff and MP around the gym and explained some of the successes and challenges that the club has faced over the years.

The club has an all-round appeal to a diverse range of people from the local community by delivering traditional carded boxer sessions – of which the club boasts over 40 carded members – parent-child training groups, and crime prevention projects with the local Violence Reduction Unit.

Ball is a regular herself at the gym, as she uses the club once or twice a week to base herself in as a remote office and help out in some of their delivery sessions.

Onwurah has also become a a regular visitor, having been twice already before her latest visit.

“It was great to be able to meet the club and Chi,” said Perryman. “We know the power of our sport in supporting under-represented communities, but through the support of MPs like Chi, we are working hard to ensure that it gets the recognition and support that it needs.

“Even though Benwell Victoria is just one a 1,000 member clubs, it offers a great example of what hundreds of clubs and volunteers are doing up and down the country, day-in and day-out.

“It was also wonderful to have the support of Chi in helping the club with some of their in-house projects and general repairs to the facility, that I know Karl and the team really appreciate.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in the visit. It’s always beneficial to get out into our clubs and remind ourselves what the power of boxing means to so many people, as well as offer and provide support directly to the volunteers and coaches behind it all. Boxing truly does inspire and transform lives.”

Ball added: “I currently work within Benwell as a host desking location throughout the week. It is a lively and welcoming boxing gym that is always inclusive for whoever walks through the door.

“Benwell is always thinking of others and making sure everyone is treated fairly and equally.”