AN OXFORD boxing academy has seen attendance at its classes rocket since it moved into its first permanent home.
Last year a Sport England grant allowed Oxford Boxing Academy to have its first permanent base in 39 years.
The money allowed the boxing club, which used to be based at Wolvercote Young People’s Club, to buy the Saxon Youth Centre in Northway.
Head coach Faz Keyani joined the club himself back in 1976.
He said: “We probably have around 70 people coming to the academy a week.
“A year ago we had between 15 and 20 and we couldn’t take any more on but now we are absolutely overwhelmed with people wanting to join.”
The building in Saxon Way used to be home to the Matrix Youth Club but this closed because of cuts.
Oxfordshire County Council then agreed to sell the building to the Oxford Boxing Academy after the £46,000 grant came through.
Having the new premises has allowed Mr Keyani to create new boxing classes for women – in the spotlight since Team GB’s Olympic success – and disabled people.
The academy is also working with problem children from schools across Oxford and, since moving, it has been running Btec courses.
He said: “None of this would be possible if we had not got our own premises.
“I started as a young member and took over in the late 80s as a coach but we only had our facilities for two one-hour sessions a week.
“Since we moved things have just exploded. The club is so busy now.”
Mr Keyani is convinced of the benefits which boxing can bring to the community.
He said: “Boxing is not just fighting. It is like saying that rugby is just about the tackling. If you rugby tackle someone in the street you will get arrested.
“Boxing is about controlled aggression and it is an all-round body workout.
“It is about control, discipline and respect for others. We don’t force anyone to go and compete.”