September 24 2014 Latest news:
Robin Cottle, Reporter
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Tony Martin is proud of what he has achieved at Hornchurch and Elm Park Boxing club.
The 74-year-old was nominated for the Doug Riden Lifetime Achievement Award at last month’s Havering Sports Council Awards after 35 years at the club.
Although he didn’t win, the septugenarian says it was an “honour just to be nominated.”
“It came as a surprise to be put forward,” Tony explained.
“I think the boxing club’s committee put me forward because I’ve been at the club for so many years.
“It’s more a reflection of the club than me, which is going really well at the moment.”
A couple of years ago a quadruple heart bypass surgery forced Tony out of coaching.
Now he concentrates on the day-to-day running and administration side of the club.
He admits it was difficult to give up coaching, something that had consumed more than three decades of his life.
“It was a difficult transition not to coach any more,” said Tony.
“A friend who coached at the club, Martin Ducklow, suggested I give it a go and I haven’t looked back.
“I miss getting into the ring and putting the gloves and pads on. But I still love being involved with the club.
“It’s going from strength to strength and has changed a lot in the last 35 years.
“It has seen a number of recent improvements to the showers, toilets and central heating and we get funding from a number of different charities, most notably the Jack Petchey Foundation, which really helps us out.”
For now, Tony is focusing on the future.
Despite being almost full to capacity, he says the club’s biggest problem is retaining boxers after they rise through the junior ranks.
The Cranham resident said: “We always seem to produce good juniors but we’re focusing on the transition to seniors.
“A lot of people move away to work or study and that means we’re not as strong in the seniors as we could be.
“Boxing training is really hard. You can’t just wing it and we won’t throw any of our fighters into the ring if they’re not ready.
“They need to be fighting fit.”
Tony, a retired Fleet Street printer, still spends one or two nights a week at the club.
They train on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
And two nights a week they put on “ankle biters” club for 10-year-olds too young to fight competitively.
He said: “It’s a great way to get kids involved early.
“There are skills fights, no one wins or loses and there are referees to ensure no one gets hurt.
“It’s a great success and a lot of talented youngsters have come through that way.”
Hornchurch and Elm Park are putting on a boxing show at Chafford Sports Centre in Rainham on Saturday, March 29. It starts at 2pm and costs £10 for adults and £5 for pensioners and under-16s.