OXFORD’S oldest boxing club has been saved from closure after finding a new home.

Blackbird Leys Amateur Boxing Club, founded in 1960, faced an uncertain future with its previous base at Blackbird Leys Community Centre part of regeneration plans.

However, the volunteer-run club has found a new place to call home, at Oxford Stadium.

The facilities at the Cowley venue include a permanent ring, gym equipment, and showering and changing facilities.

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Blackbird Leys ABC secretary and coach Keith Perisi said: “It’s been a concerning period for everyone associated with the club.

“We’ve been supported by the council in trying to find a new venue but raising significant funds to make that a reality has been difficult.

“Partnering with Oxford Stadium and the Frank Bruno Foundation is a real lifesaver.

“Without this facility, we would’ve been forced to close after more than 60 years of creating healthy minds and bodies through the power of boxing.

“As everything we need is permanently based at the stadium too, it saves our volunteers a huge amount of time setting up.

“Our new gym is completely fit for purpose, and we look forward to engaging more youngsters and adults of all backgrounds with boxing for many years to come.”

Oxford Mail: Blackbird Leys ABC has found a new home at Oxford StadiumBlackbird Leys ABC has found a new home at Oxford Stadium

The Frank Bruno Foundation, created by the former heavyweight boxer to improve mental wellbeing through a non-contact boxing programme, will manage a health and wellbeing centre at Oxford Stadium.

Phase one in building the centre has recently been completed.

Blackbird Leys ABC is currently using the gym at Oxford Stadium on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evenings, plus Sunday mornings, with 60 people using the facilities each week.

Oxford Mail: Blackbird Leys ABC has found a new home at Oxford StadiumBlackbird Leys ABC has found a new home at Oxford Stadium

Perisi said: “Boxing is a fantastic sport to take up. Aside from the expected health benefits, boxing promotes discipline and helps people to develop new skills and confidence in the company of like-minded individuals.

“It gives the younger generation something to do during their leisure time as well and supports them in staying out of trouble and establishing clear goals for their futures.

“The return of Oxford Stadium has injected new life into Blackbird Leys and Cowley.

“So many people have missed it, and we’re so pleased to be part of its regeneration.”

Oxford Stadium managing director, Kevin Boothby, added: “Our regeneration project is about much more than reinstalling much-loved sports like greyhound racing and speedway back into Oxford.

“Our foremost ambition is to place this facility back into the hands of the community.”