AN Oxford University boxing coach has given his support to a Blackbird Leys club searching for a new home.
The Blackbird Leys Amateur Boxing Club is desperately hunting for a place to call its own, after outgrowing its current home in the local community centre.
University coach and former Young England boxer Des Brackett, 54, said the club had changed his life.
The grandfather-of-five said: “The club is where I first started boxing, about 46 years ago. Since that day, I’ve travelled across the world and it’s given me the chance to do things I never would have otherwise.”
Mr Brackett grew up in Kestrel Crescent with eight brothers and two sisters.
He was first taken to the club at the Blackbird Leys Community Centre, by his older brother Eamon when he was eight. He took part in his first competitive fight when he was 10 and went on to compete for Young England when he was 17.
Mr Brackett has coached the Oxford University Amateur Boxing Club for 15 years, travelling the world to the USA, Japan, and across Europe.
He said: “I have a real passion for Blackbird Leys – that is where I started. I remember spending days and days training, sparring.
“It gave me a life. It was a lot of hard work but thanks to that club, I’ve achieved something with my life.
“And it gives other young people from the estate the chance to do the same.”
Mr Brackett’s prize possessions include a picture of him meeting boxing legend Henry Cooper, and a film poster for Blue Blood, a 2004 film documenting the university boxing club. He has led the university team to the last two victories over Cambridge in the Varsity Boxing Match.
He added: “Before I started boxing, I was an introvert and didn’t have much confidence. But it showed me I could achieve things.
“Now the club deserves the chance to make sure other people from the estate know that too.”
In its current home, the boxing coaches have to take down the ring and other equipment every night after training.
It needs a big space, where dozens of boxers could train each week.
- Can you help find the club a home? Call reporter Rhianne Pope on 01865 425411