A police boss has urged local businesses to support a boxing club that’s helping to combat anti-social behaviour on a once-troubled housing estate.
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones was speaking during a visit to the Maesgeirchen Boxing Club which has received a £2,500 grant partly funded by cash seized from criminals.
The money from the Your Community, Your Choice fund administered by Mr Jones, the Police and Community Trust (PACT) and North Wales Police has been used to buy new equipment, with half the money coming via the money
The club is run by dedicated trainer Brian Williams, 71, who can be found at the club putting boys through their paces and teaching ring craft most evenings and weekends.
But the club’s facilities are in desperate need of a revamp as the boys now have to train in a make shift ring set up in an old garage
Mr Jones said: “Each year PACT supports projects across each North Wales authority and two projects covering the whole of the region. The money goes to projects voted on by the general public.
“I’m delighted the public voted in favour of supporting Maesgeirchen Boxing Club. The club is bringing boys together and giving them a sense of purpose.
“It’s wonderful that the club is helping so many boys. The work Brian does is fantastic and he’s teaching these boys important lessons in discipline and fitness.
“There is a real social value in what goes on here. It’s great to see these young lads hard at work with their energy channelled in the right way. There is no doubt in my mind that the boxing club is having a big effect on reducing crime and anti-social behaviour.”
He added: “I and PACT only have limited funds but I believe local businesses need to get behind the boxing club with some serious sponsorship. The money we donated has been used to buy head guards, gloves, punch bags and other equipment.
“I’d like to see the club in a better home but that is going to take real commitment and hard work. I’m appealing to Bangor and North Wales businesses to get involved with what is a fantastic project.”
Brian Williams, who was born in Liverpool but has lived on Bangor’s Maesgeirchen estate since the age of six, started getting involved in boxing with the now disbanded YMCA Club in Holyhead in the 1970s.
He said: “My son David Williams boxed from the age of 11. He then moved to Bangor and was trained by Les Davies the old referee. I helped out with training and coaching and went on a course to get my coaching qualification.
“I started the Maesgeirchen club on Penrhyn Avenue in about 1995 as it was on the estate and I thought we needed something here. We did have a big room that the youth club shut when it closed down and now we are stuck in the garage.
“We built a ring and we have a proper ring we can use when we do boxing shows or events. At the moment I have around 12 regular boxers and some good ones too. I also help the younger ones start out.
“The boys train on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday and we go to competitions or events at the weekend. I have the little ones on a Tuesday and Thursday. The thing is it keeps the kids off the estate and hanging around with nothing to do.”
“The money we received from the Police and Crime Commissioner is amazing and really helps.
“We have some good young lads, some who boxed in the nationals, and it really helps. The equipment we have been able to buy means we can work even harder. I’d love to see one of our boys make it to the Commonwealth or Olympic Games that would be something.
“David Davies from around here won silver at the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in the 70s. He pops in now and then to see how the boys are getting on. I used to spar with him.”
Councillor Nigel Pickervance, who is the local member for the Maesgeirchen estate, says the work Brian Williams does at the club deserves to be recognised.
He said: “He puts in a huge amount of effort into training and coaching the boys and has done for decades.
“Many young people come to the club and will benefit from the new equipment the club has been able to buy thanks to the donation from the Police and Crime Commissioner and PACT.
“I applied for the grant on behalf of Brian and the club and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do so. This is cash from criminal endeavour being put to very good use.”
PCSO Mike Sandbrook added: “Brian is fantastic and keeps the young lads focused and on the straight and narrow. He’s actually quite strict with the boys and I think they respond to that. This club does a lot and is keeping boys off the streets and doing something worthwhile.
Boxer Paddy Wall, 11, has been attending the club since he was nine and he has hopes of becoming a top fighter.
He said: “I love it. I was in the Welsh Schoolboy Championships in the Under 11 age group and lost in the final on a split decision to a lad from Chepstow. I thought I’d won to be honest.
“I want to box professionally and become a champion. Having the club here on the estate is great and means a lot.”
Jamie Laudan, 13, said: “Brian is fantastic and I love the club even though it’s small. The new equipment is just amazing and will really help.”