A boxing club is aiming to continue punching above its weight by nurturing further young talent to make a town proud.
Trinity Amateur Boxing Club in Ilkeston was founded by brothers Danny and John Rafferty in December 1975 at the Holy Trinity Church School Rooms on Cotmanhay Road.
The family connection remains today with John’s son, Scott, (57), steering the club - now based at the MMP Construction works unit on the Quarry Hill Industrial Estate.
It has just taken on a new intake of would-be boxers, something it does every June at the end of the competitive season when its coaches have more time to mentor newcomers.
Trinity can boast 14 national titles and many England representatives over the years, but Scott, lead coach and club leader for 24 years, said his first aim was to make sure it carried on producing young people the town could be proud of.
“I hope the club can continue to be a big part of Ilkeston’s sporting structure,” he said.
“We have many sporting clubs to be proud of in the town and I hope Trinity’s membership and local boxing supporters ensure the club continues and thrives in the future, producing young people that the town can be proud of.
“I continue to be involved in amateur boxing because I see the way it positively affects young people’s lives. It gives them confidence and a sense of purpose.
“It also brings out the best in certain people as far as talent, determination and desire goes.
“I love the sport and all that it has given me.”
Scott said most new members had a vision of what the sport was about based on the famous Rocky films starring Sylvester Stallone or from watching the likes of professional fighters, such as Floyd Mayweather, Amir Khan and Anthony Joshua, on TV.
“But when they actually enter the gym and start to train alongside their new club mates, they are usually in awe of the skills they are seeing - and would mostly aspire to emulate their new club mates rather than the TV and film figures,” he said.
Scott, an upholsterer by day, joined the club aged 17 when his father, who sadly died earlier this year aged 85, launched Trinity after they left the now defunct Draycott Boxing Club, where Scott started boxing aged nine.
He boxed at bantamweight, featherweight and lightweight as Trinity became established in the town.
The club took its name from the Holy Trinity Church and schoolrooms where it was first established.
It was also based at Friesland School, Sandiacre; the back room of the Poplar Inn on Bath Street, Ilkeston; the Pioneer Club (now the Davey Lamp pub) on Corporation Road;.the Rutland Arms Hotel, Bath Street (now demolished and the site of Aldi); work units next to its then main sponsor, Aldreds the Bakers, and a gym on Critchley Street for around 10 years before moving to its present training headquarters three years ago.
Like his fellow coaches – Josh Robinson and Nathan Hill, both aged 26 - Scott volunteers his time to ensure the members are given the best possible training.
All three are England Boxing qualified coaches. Josh, a car salesman, and self-employed builder Nathan joined as 10-year-olds and went on to represent the club around 40 times in competitive contests.
Former volunteer coaches, many ex-club boxers, also return to help with the training.
The club is open to anyone aged between 10 and 30, both male and female, who wants to become a competitive boxer.
It has a main intake of new members in June, but will take on boxers with some experience during the season as the coaches can integrate them into the club without disrupting training routines.
Scott said: “We have used this method for many years and find it works well.
“There are around 30 members with approximately 20 regularly in the gym during the competitive season. But joining just to keep fit is not an option.
“When young people join Trinity they are told the work they will do will be hard, but rewarding. It is then their decision if they wish to continue.
“As their development continues the workload – and the effort required - increases.
“At that time the young members are gradually making up their mind if they want to put in the required effort. For some that is a challenge they want to meet and take on and for others it is not.
“Around 10% of new members stay the course and make it into the competitive boxing ring.
“That said, many young people get a taste of challenging themselves and learn important lessons along the way, so even if they decide boxing is not for them they are learning to interact with people and challenge themselves.
“They learn to respect others and themselves and they have the opportunity to fit in and be part of an enjoyable experience..”
The club, which has produced several fighters who have gone on to have successful professional careers in the ring, enters members into England Boxing championships each year.
It also promotes boxing shows at the Festival Inn, Trowell, at least twice year – the next is on 14th October - and recently promoted an event at the iPro Stadium, Derby.
The shows help to raise funds to keep the club running – its £5 a week subscriptions for three weekly gym sessions do not cover the rent for the gym - as well as giving members the opportunity to display their skills and local boxing fans the chance to see them in action.
The club has received grants and donations to help establish the gym and buy equipment.
Derbyshire county councillor Glenys Birkin presented £500 from its community leadership scheme in recognition of Trinity’s role in the town. Councillors John Frudd and Michelle Booth have also helped.
The club has received a Lottery donation while landlord MMP Construction gifted £1,000, which was put towards kit for boxers to fight in.
But, as with most amateur sports clubs these days, funds are very tight and Trinity is fighting hard to maintain its proud history.
Anyone wanting to join the waiting list to join the club can contact Scott Rafferty on 07956 565582.