Sports Awards: Stoke YMCA members boxing clever to make their mark
BOXING at Stoke YMCA has never been just about winning medals – but you won't find anyone moaning as the club's best fighters go on the glory trail.
More than 80 boxers of all ages and backgrounds head to the club's Hanley base for any of four weekly sessions, with five or six new faces normally coming through the door each time as well.
Coach Elizibeth Buxton relishes the opportunity to get in a ring to help keep kids off the streets and out of trouble, where teaching about discipline is as important as learning how to throw a punch.
Yet sport is always going to be about success, too, and Stoke are getting that in droves thanks to Nathan Heaney and Greg Lunt.
Cheap Van Insurance For 17,18 & 19 Year Old Drivers - Call Insure365 01782 898188, Free Legal Protection Cover Included valued at £25.00!
Terms: 1 Voucher Per Customer
Contact: 01782 898188
Valid until: Monday, June 24 2013
Light-middleweight Heaney has been the star.
The 23-year-old, from Fenton, has won silver at the Haringey Cup and gold in the Viking Cup in Denmark and the Redditch Championship in the past 12 months.
Now Lunt, from Baddeley Green, has arrived on the scene.
The 13-year-old only took up boxing a year ago and he has already made it into the semi-finals of the national Royal Navy Schools 46-48kg competition.
He will take on Adam Shakil (West Leeds) in Wakefield this weekend hoping to emulate his mentor David Buxton, who won the title at the same age in 1986.
It is Lunt, perhaps, who best epitomises the club.
"If you'd met Greg outside of the gym you would have thought he would never be a boxer. He's very quiet," said Elizibeth, aged 36, from Abbey Hulton.
"Put a pair of gloves on him and he's a completely different person. It's been fantastic to see him growing in confidence and now he's looking like the real deal.
"We are one big family and we try to make everyone feel welcome. Not everyone who comes sticks it out, but it's brilliant to work with those that do."
Stoke have three groups in their training sessions, with different regimes for beginners, intermediate and advanced contenders.
It means hard work for the six coaches, Elizibeth and David Buxton, Danny Johnson, Johnny Martin, Ade Tillstone, Jimmy Colclough and a team of other volunteers.
And their outlook is not restricted to just developing ace boxers.
Elizibeth explained: "There are some people who will never be able to box, for a variety of reasons, but they still want to be involved.
"I can still teach them different things so that they can be a coach, or a judge like myself. They love the sport and they can pass that to the next group."
Stoke YMCA have been nominated in the Sport in the Community category of The Sentinel/City of Stoke-on-Trent Sports Personality of the Year Awards by Elizibeth, who thinks the club will continue to grow.
She said: "We are busy organising a team trip to Dublin and we will also take boxers to Redditch and Haringey after Nathan's success in those competitions.
"All our coaches work full-time during the day, but their enthusiasm for boxing is infectious and I can't see the rate of growth slowing down.
"We welcome children as young as seven, right the way through to adults and whatever their age or their standard, most of them end up loving it."