A boxing club at the heart of the New Addington community for the past 50 years is ‘fighting for its future’ after it was told to leave its current home by the end of April.

The New Addington Amateur Boxing Club (NAABC) has been based at the back of Timebridge Centre in Field Way for about 20 years.

Hundreds of people on the estate have used the club, including generations of the same family. There are currently 50 members enrolled.

The club found out its future was at risk two years ago, when proposals for the regeneration of the area were put forward by Croydon Council.

A new centre is being built on the current site of the Timebridge Centre, which will combine this and the Fieldway Family Centre.

And a special needs school for 150 children will also be built on the site.

At this time the club was told by the council that it would be found a new premises.

But the club claims that they have not had much communication with the council and still have no idea when or where they will be able to move to. Currently it has subsidised rent of £180 a month.

‘A huge amount has gone into the club’

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Billy Graham was a member of the club as a child and became involved again as head coach about 15 years ago.

He said: “If you are building a very large special needs complex we can help, the sport is for everybody or anybody.

“It can be be about a young girl or guy who isn’t going to become a boxer, isn’t that as important as having a champion?”

Back in 2012 the club received £17,500 when it appeared on Channel 4 programme Secret Millionaire which it used to do up the building.

As well as a boxing ring there are numerous punching bags, a workout area with treadmills and changing rooms.

“A huge amount of investment has gone into this club,” added Billy.

It runs three sessions a week and charges £3 for kids and £5 for adults.

Billy’s daughter Louiza Graham started a petition which has now gathered more than 1,200 signatures.

The 19-year-old has been boxing since the age of 10 and is now a coach herself.

She said: “There is a whole lot of opportunities we can have through the club, I never imagined myself creating a whole life from boxing.

“We give members outside support as well, we get contacted about people’s mental health and other things.”

Fellow coach Tim Copeman agreed, saying that the club is more than just boxing, but a close-knit community.

He said: “It gives them confidence. We’ve helped get people jobs like being apprentice mechanics or some have gone on to university.”

Tim added that he thinks that the club should have been included in the new building.

‘Fighting for our future’

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The club provides an outlet and place for many youngsters on the estate.

Welfare officer Zoe Graham says she feels that if the club was to lose its home it would impact on the wider community.

She added: “The council has had no interest in us before but now we are in the way it is clear that NAABC exists.”

Billy said he was disappointed to find out that the boxing club would lose its home in the new development.

And with more homes proposed for the estate he thinks the club will be needed more than ever.

“More people are coming to this estate they are going to need more amenities. These people have to have something to do,” said Billy.

“I never thought we would be having to fight for our future, I thought we were part of that.

“We didn’t think this would happen and when we realised they are doing something for the area and for children I thought we would be a part of it.”

Jeremy  Southworth from the South East London Amateur Boxing Association has been fighting for the club to get a new location by communicating with the council.

He said: “It seems there are no plans to move them on and the moment.

“The club is a great way of getting kids off the streets and stopping them getting into crime, I don’t know why the council would not want to help with that.”

Jeremy claims emails complaining to Croydon Council were not responded to and says he is now in the process of taking the complaints to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The council is ‘working hard’ to find a solution

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Councillor Oliver Lewis is the cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport and New Addington representative.

“I recognise that NAABC is a really important part of the community in New Addington,” he said.

“They do really important work with a section of the population that needs to be engaged with activities.

“The way that a lot of new buildings are going is that they are flexible spaces, the difficulty is that they need a dedicated space.

“I understand that council officers are currently in conversations with them about the leisure centre.”

New Addington’s new leisure centre was opened in January and includes a community space.

But NABCC are keen to have their own space as they have a lot of equipment that would not be easy to set up and take down three times a week.

Cllr Lewis added: “The leisure centre is in a much much more prominent location, it could help them to build up members and engage with other stakeholders.

“It would require a degree of flexibility of use of space, there is potentially some money to buy equipment to move in and out more easily.

“We are working hard and we hope that we can continue a dialogue.”