Whether you still feel sucker-punched from all that turkey and pud, you got a right hook from Aunty Gladys after cheating at Trivial Pursuit, or you’re just limbering up to bob and weave your way through the January sales, Boxing Day seems like the ideal time to celebrate the noble art of pugilism.
Yes, we know the name comes from the days when tradespeople got their Christmas boxes as a reward for good service, but we decided to ignore that and give you this starter list of London’s top boxing clubs instead.
Repton Boxing Club in Bethnal Green was established in 1884 by Repton public school and is housed today in a very fine Victorian bathhouse. It’s one of the UK's most famous clubs, producing prize winners including the one time middleweight champ, 'Dazzling' Darren Barker. As one of the best gyms in the country it's not open to beginners or people seeking exercise classes — this is for only for people who are serious about the sport.
Islington Boxing Club was founded by a publican, a policeman and a railway man in 1974. It has since moved from its first home near King’s Cross to its current location in Upper Holloway. It especially welcomes young people to teach them discipline and encourage camaraderie and has connections with a number of local schools. The club is open to men, women and children and there’s even Chess Boxing on offer for more cerebral types. You can take a recreational trial class for £9 (£6 concessions) — click here for the application form.
Earlsfield Amateur Boxing Club in Wandsworth started off in a Scout hut in 1946 but has come a long way since then, boasting a number of home-grown amateur champs. Boxing takes place on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays between 6pm-9pm and there are keep-fit sessions on Wednesdays between 6.30pm-8.30pm. Like Repton, this is a pretty serious gym and not the type of place you can just turn up at with your gum shield — they prefer you contact them via phone or email first rather than just showing up — click here for info.
Fitzroy Lodge is another club with a long heritage. In 1910, a surgeon from Lambeth called Lionel Baly decided to help the local street kids by opening a club dedicated to amateur boxing. After the home Baly set up was destroyed in the Blitz, the club moved around until it finally settled under the arches in Lambeth Road in 1946. Since then it’s had its fair share of champs proudly sporting the club’s vest with its black and white hoops. To have a look, newbies are advised to attend one of the club's keep fit sessions, then if you’re ready, you’ll be invited to a senior or junior training session.
The Lynn A.C. takes the prize of Britain’s oldest amateur venue, founded in 1892. It started life in a café in Borough High Street a few years after regulated amateur boxing took over from bare knuckle fighting. It’s now based in Wells Way Baths in Southwark and is known as a stable for talent. The most famous Lynn-trained recruit is probably Danny Williams, who knocked out Mike Tyson in four rounds in 2004 (and he remains involved with the club to this day).
Dale Youth is a famously tough club on the ground floor of Grenfell Tower, one of several grim blocks in the patch of land between Ladbroke Grove and Shepherd's Bush. Despite its nondescript surroundings the club has an excellent reputation for producing some of the city’s best boxers, including Olympic Gold Medalist James Degale and British Champion George Groves.
There are more clubs to try all across London, so find your nearest club among the ones listed here and make 2015 the year you float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.