A BOXING club that has trained teenagers in Oxford for 39 years is set get its first permanent home.

Oxfordshire County Council has agreed to sell the Saxon Centre, in Saxon Way, Northway, to Oxford Boxing Academy. The building is home to a county council youth centre which will close because of spending cuts.

The boxing club has been meeting at Wolvercote Young People’s Club since 1972, but has always lacked a proper ring to train in or a permanent home.

Now the club has to raise £46,000 to buy the building by the end of August.

Head coach Faz Keyani, who joined the club in 1976, said: “We have been looking to move for many years.

“We don’t have a purpose-built facility, but instead share a youth club that we turn into a makeshift boxing club. It has worked up until now, but we need a permanent base.”

He added: “We have produced champions here for 39 years, but have never had a proper boxing ring.”

If the club succeeds in purchasing the building, it will run junior and senior boxing clubs, as well as offering fitness and boxercise sessions for girls, with the possibility of setting up a female team.

Oxford’s former British Empire featherweight champion Percy Lewis, now 83, is one of the volunteers who still helps train the 25 young fighters at the club.

Staff also work with youngsters at risk of exclusion from Oxford schools.

Mr Keyani said: “We give troublemakers a bit of respect and discipline, and give timid or introverted kids a more confidence.

“A recent study has shown that those that engaged with sport, and particularly amateur boxing, tend to see their marks increase at school and their learning gets better.

“Too many kids today have no discipline or respect, but if they come here they need discipline and have to show respect for their trainers.”

Last week, the council’s cabinet granted the club the chance to buy the centre as it approved 13 ‘Big Society’ bids for either cash or the transfer of redundant council properties. The deal has an eight week “cooling-off” period.

County council cabinet member Arash Fatemian said: “Boxing is a different way of reaching out to different groups of society. Boxing is not for everybody, but as someone who used to do martial arts, I understand the benefits that the discipline and the extended family of a boxing club can bring, especially at a venture that has been running for so many years.”

Elsewhere in the county, the Allendale youth centre in Carterton, Glyme Hall in Chipping Norton, FAZE in Faringdon, Wantage’s Sweatbox, Wolvercote Young People’s Club, Wheatley youth centre and Eynsham Young People’s Centre will all be taken on by other organisations.