Tackling Inequalities Fund: How we’ve benefited – Roman Boxing Gym

October 20, 2020 | by Matt Halfpenny


Roman Boxing Gym is continuing the proud tradition of boxing in Bath that goes back generations. Club secretary Jackie Wiacek explains how a grant from the Sport-England funded Tackling Inequalities Fund has been pivotal in helping them to navigate path through the Coronavirus Pandemic.


How the club applied for Tackling Inequalities Funding

We discovered the Tackling Inequalities Fund through a post on the England Boxing Facebook page. After reviewing the requirements we felt our members would be eligible and started to work out what we would need to reopen our club. The application process was very simple with only 1 form to fill in and all completed within a few weeks with great communication from EB throughout.

What the funding means to the club

The TIF grant has been a massive help for our club. Quite simply, without this funding we would not be open. The fund has enabled us to safely open our club back up and get our members training again.

Firstly, we were able to purchase essential cleaning equipment that keeps our boxers and coaches safe. We have purchased an electronic fogger machine that allows us to quickly disinfect our training space after each session and a steam mop for deep cleans.

The fund is also helping subsidise room hire costs which have increased 40% due to having to temporarily change venues (the club is currently waiting for the ventilation in its usual venue to be improved before moving back there), while at the same time we’re limited to half our usual capacity due to social distancing.

Without funding, we couldn’t have resume training without passing significantly higher costs on to our members which is not something we’d be prepared to do.

About the club, its coaches and members

Roman Boxing Gym is a new club in Bath, named after the Roman city, that opened on Boxing Day 2018 and is led by Level 3 Senior coach Darren Sullivan (pictured bottom, right).

Many in England Boxing will remember Darren as a former Western Counties Senior coach and he was matchmaker for the Bristol Sporting Club shows for the Western Counties Squads against the Royal Navy and Army.

He has coached for 16 years at Frome ABC and others, and now coaches alongside a former boxer he coached at Frome ABC, Craig Ryder.

Bath has a long history in boxing, which Darren and his family have been involved with for generations. Opening a gym in Bath has been a long time dream for Darren since Percy Boys Boxing Club closed its doors in the 90s.

At its height, Percy Boys had approximately 600 members and we strive to build on the unbelievable response Roman Boxing Gym has had since opening and get back to this level of boxing interest in Bath.

Serving a cross section of the community

Bath is generally thought of as very affluent, but, within the city, there are neighbourhoods ranked among the 10% most deprived in the whole of the country.

We’ve found this extreme contrast compounds the day-to-day struggles of people living in these areas, as often they can be overlooked.

It is sometimes assumed if you’re living in Bath, you are well off, whereas the reality is that the cost of living in Bath can make everyday struggles even harder.

Our members are from diverse backgrounds, our club brings people from the whole community together and through their shared boxing interest they have formed close friendships.

We are offering people from all backgrounds a chance to belong to something by being affordable. Boxing is a low-cost activity to get in to, which in itself helps make us very inclusive.

Building confidence in young people

Boxing is a great sport as it helps build confidence in young people, it inspires them to have the drive to achieve, it also teaches respect and discipline and helps them to channel their emotions in the correct way.

All these attributes contribute to a great future in anything our members go on to do. In Darren’s own words: “I am very passionate about boxing. When I was boxing I was the fittest ever, it kept me on the straight and narrow and I had a great sense of achievement whenever I competed in front of a crowd.

“I felt I was part of a boxing community, boxing is a great social sport. I have met some great people from all around the country and I have gained some fantastic memories on the way. I am happy to remain involved in boxing today as a coach and I aim to give others the experiences that I have experienced.”

About the Tackling Inequalities Fund

Roman Boxing Gym is one of more than 65 clubs in some of the country’s most deprived communities to which England Boxing has distributed £150,000 from the Tackling Inequalities Fund, funded by Sport England. All clubs given grants had either received no other funding, or were in a critical situation where other funds had been exhausted.

You can find out more by clicking here, or contact the England Boxing Club Support Officer in your region.