Keith Nugent, a former professional boxer and world record holder has been running Hulton Abbey Amateur Boxing Club for the last 19 years. Through their love of boxing, Keith and his colleague Shaun Bettaney have dedicated themselves tirelessly to the club with the sole aim of helping the guys and girls that walk through their doors. Over the years, they have helped not only with boxing skills but by giving the kids an outlet, somewhere they can come and enjoy themselves and learn valuable life skills, such as discipline and teamwork and realise the rewards that can be achieved through hard work and dedication.
The club was located in the Wallace Sports and Education Centre, Stoke-on-Trent for many years. However last year following the revamp of the Wallace Centre, the team, with the support of Martin Webb and WJ, seized the opportunity and moved to a new facility at Hillchurch street in Hanley, which officially opened in September 2017. Shaun commented “The new building is fantastic before we were carrying all of our gear around in bags. We had to set the ring up for every session. Now, everything is here for us! The equipment’s all set out, we’ve got more than ever before, absolutely everything we need here. It’s made everything so much easier.” As well as support from WJ, they also receive support from several local SMEs, alongside becoming a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC). A government scheme which looks to back local sports club with the funding they need to increase their ability to operate effectively.
Since the move, the club has seen steady growth in numbers, with many of the previous regulars following the club, along with many new entrants coming too. Keith remarked “It’s great, we regularly see over 30 people of all ages coming along to each of the three sessions we have a week. It’s also wonderful to see how many girls we now have coming, and we’re starting to see that number increase further. We’ve got a young girl who’s a brilliant boxer and we’ve got high hopes for her in the future.” A number of the girls now also get to enjoy a trip out to Squad Training in Warrington, organised by England coach Amanda Groake.
Alongside the squad training trips, Keith and Shaun have developed several relationships with boxing clubs in the local area. From these relationships, they have been regularly hosting sparring sessions and taking the team out to other clubs for sessions there. Keith continued “It’s a great opportunity for them to practice what they’ve learnt on new opponents and to make new friends.”
All club members also enjoy a yearly trip out to Blackpool, where parents are invited to attend. This enables kids and parents that normally wouldn’t get chance to leave Stoke very often a chance to go and enjoy a day at the beach together.”
Looking to the future, this year the club will be holding its fifth annual main event. Where they will be joined by boxers from the armed forces and special guest Glenn McCrory, former IBF cruiserweight world champion and Sky sports commentator. On the 11th of May, the club, with WJ, will be holding a night filled with boxing matches where Hulton Abbeys rising star Simon Murphy will be making his debut. The super heavyweight will be fighting in front of a crowd of around three hundred people, where he will be hoping to announce himself to the local boxing community.