Tackling Inequalities Fund: how we’ve benefited – Waterlooville Boxing Club

September 8, 2020 | by Matt Halfpenny


When the Southern Counties club were given a much-needed £3,000 grant to help with running costs, the club were considering closure because of a lack of income due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, as Secretary and Coach Garry Bird explains.

How did you come to apply for Tackling Inequalities Funding?

We heard about it through England Boxing’s emails and communications and our regional Club Support Officer (Avoen Perryman) also followed up to check if we needed help – which we did.

Like all clubs, a lot of people put a lot of their own time and money into it to keep things running, but when something like Covid-19 hits, which is an exceptional circumstance, you need that bit of extra help, yet we weren’t successful in getting any of the other grants we applied for.

We’re very thankful for what England Boxing and Sport England have been able to do for us through the Tackling Inequalities Fund.

How much of a difference will it make to your club?

To be honest, getting the funding has been the deciding factor in us being able to continue the club. We draw our income from our Members – even though a lot of them are children so we charge them the minimum possible – and shows.

Because we were closed for a while we owed our landlady a considerable sum. She has been as understanding as she can – she let us paint her business’ building in lieu of rent for the month of August, but we still owed the money going back to March.

We had no way of paying those debts, we didn’t know where we were going to get the money, until thus funding, which has now given us some breathing space.

We’ve also managed to secure a couple of sponsors, all of which should help see us through to the New Year.

Waterlooville’s Harry Bird (above, blue)  in pre-lockdown action.

Tell us more about your club…

The club has been run for a long time by Head Coach George MacKenzie, who’s done a brilliant job, and we have five coaches now.

We have 18 or 19 carded boxers and another 20 who are recreational boxers, and they really love it.

Our carded boxers are back now, though the recreational ones are having to wait, but we’re hoping that will change soon and the government will eventually allow it. It means we’re not getting the full income we eventually need, but at least it’s a start and we’ve got some kids back in the gym.

We’ve now registered as a CIC (Community Interest Company) and we’re hoping eventually to move to a new gym.

What kind of influence does your club have on its local community?

A lot of the children who box with us are from tough areas and, by coming to us, they get some structure that every child needs, but they might not get elsewhere.

For many of them we are like a second family and we help them out wherever we can, in and out of the ring.

I have seen in my own son that the lockdown has been mentally challenging, and we know that when they come to the gym, the social interaction they get is second to none.

It is somewhere for the children to go three or four nights a week where they can feel at ease and enjoy themselves.

What makes boxing such a great sport?

I initially joined the club to help with the accounts, but now I have sat the coaching course and I am well and truly part of the family. I could spend the time putting in extra hours at work, but it feels great to instead give something back and you get such a buzz from it.

The kids who come along to the gym are a great bunch of kids and it’s nice to help develop them as boxers and people – even if you do still get really nervous when they get into the ring for bouts.

About the Tackling Inequalities Fund

Waterlooville Boxing Club 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.

Main image taken before the Coronavirus lockdown.