A popular boxing club which has been running for 50 years has been served a major blow by Croydon Council as it fights for its future once again.

The past two years have been full of uncertainty for the New Addington Amateur Boxing Club (NAABC) after it had to move out of its home behind the Timebridge Centre as part of council regeneration of the area. 

The club was promised a new permanent home in the area and last May was offered a temporary space at New Addington Community Centre with the possibility of moving over to the new leisure centre when the lease ends on March 31.

But this week, Croydon Council withdrew the offer of a long-term solution.

Bill Graham was a member of the club as a child and has been head coach for more than 15 years.

He said: “I felt choked. We were absolutely devastated, we didn’t expect that at all, it has hit us hard.

“We were led to believe that we were working with them for a future.”

When the club moved over to the community centre the council gave it around £10,000 for a new ring and equipment – things that have hardly been used as the club has been closed for most of the past year due to the pandemic.

“We’d only just opened when the doors had to shut two weeks later,” said the coach.

“It’s 50 years gone, we haven’t got a future at the moment.”

The club has around 50 members from as young as 10 all the way to adults and runs three sessions a week charging £3 for kids and £5 for adults.

Interim director of home and social investment, Ozzay Ali, wrote to the club with the bad news on Monday (March1).

In the letter, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, he said: “I am sorry that this will not have been the news you were hoping for, and I am aware you are yet to identify a longer term venue for hosting the club. I also recognise the additional challenge to your activities that have arisen during Covid-19.”

In the letter he says it feels like the council has “closed every door” to the club.

“It is a huge hit for the kids in the community, there are very few places for young people to go,” said Bill.

“I’ve just been to the funeral of my coach, that was really hard, we are broken hearted. For me growing up he was a father figure to me and a lot of kids.”

Charlie Hustwayte was a coach at the club for more than 20 years, he died  after a short battle with coronavirus aged 84 on January 24.

Bill added: “It is not just about being a boxing champion, it is about discipline and giving role models to kids.

“It is like being part of a family, especially for kids coming from broken homes. Having this second family, this place you can go to is as important to them as it is for me.”

Fellow coach Tim Copeman previously told us that the club is about more than just boxing.

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

The letter blames the council’s dire financial situation for not being able to offer any more financial support to the club and Bill fears the boxing club will not be the last community group to suffer following the council’s bankruptcy.

The council is looking to make savings wherever it can as it faces an overspend this year of more than £90 million.