Highfields boxers from Ely meet at Pontyclun ABC over summer.
Highfields boxers meet at Pontyclun ABC.

Ely amateur boxing club closes to members after 53 years

Without a club, Highfields’ boxers cannot take part in formal competitions

MEMBERS of Highfields Amateur Boxing Club in Ely have lost access to their gym, threatening to end the club’s eight-year streak of winning Welsh titles.

The club’s coaches found that the locks on the building had been changed with equipment, memorabilia and medical cards still inside.

Medical cards are paper documents that prove a boxer’s fitness and allow them to fight in competitions.

Louise Geach, whose father Ray Thorogood ran the club, posted on Facebook on October 10: “As a family we have made the difficult decision to close Highfields Boxing Club after 53 years.

“Those who know my dad and what he has done for the community and Welsh boxing will understand that this is the right time.”

Coaches and parents of the club met with representatives from the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association on Wednesday November 2.

Both sides want the young boxers to be able to compete in next year’s tournaments, beginning February 2023 – even if it requires a new club or venue.

Credit: highfields_a.b.c on Instagram.

Darren Sullivan, 37, was one of the two remaining coaches at the club. He joined Highfields as a child and has been coaching for almost a decade, a highly successful period in the club’s history in which its boxers have won Welsh titles in eight consecutive years.

Scott Jones returned three Welsh titles in as many years, culminating in a senior title at the minimum age of 18.

Mr Sullivan usually begins preparing the young boxers in September ahead of tournament season in the following spring.

“It’s not fair on them, putting them in without any warm-up fights,” Mr Sullivan said. “I’m praying if we can get it open this month, we can get them one or two fights.”

The club had 10 to 20 people on their waiting list before it closed. Mr Sullivan says the appetite for boxing in Ely is still strong.

“We’ve changed lives in there. People suffering with depression, coming in to get away from it,” Mr Sullivan said.