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Blackfriars boxing heritage lives on at CityBoxer

Mark Cook & Jenny Davell

Boxing meets business at CityBoxer near the junction of Union Street and Great Southwark Street.

Blackfriars boxing heritage lives on at CityBoxer
Blackfriars boxing heritage lives on at CityBoxer

While boxing has been around in this part of the city for more than a century, the concept of CityBoxer is fresh and trendy.

Tapping into the white-collar boxing market, CityBoxer, the brainchild of Mark Burford, gives local office workers the opportunity to hone their boxing skills.

But while matches are an important part of the business, management stresses that all boxers go through rigorous training before ever stepping foot into a ring, making safety a priority.

The original Ring boxing club operated in the former Surrey Chapel on the corner of Blackfriars Road and Union Street until it was bombed during the war. The site is now occupied by Palestra, whose name is an allusion to the location's boxing heritage.

In recent years a boxing club operated above The Ring pub.

It's no wonder, then, that in this new age of personal fitness, someone would find a way to combine a local tradition with a cultural phenomenon. CityBoxer occupies two railway arches just east of Great Suffolk Street.

Dubbed by the management as a relaxed but serious "new breed of boxing", CityBoxer allows each individual to choose how much they want to get involved in the sport. This tailored, individual approach is what makes CityBoxer unique, and is what keeps customers coming back.

"It's all about getting fit, having fun, and building community," says CityBoxer's Nigel Carroll.

With more than 200 members already, and the addition of a new ring next door to their existing building, CityBoxer is poised for new growth. Walking into the CityBoxer facilities is like entering into a vintage boxing site.

The entrance is through an alley and immediately as you walk in you see black and white photographs of boxing matches from days gone by, while hearing contemporary boxing music pounding through loud speakers.

The facility has the feel of a gym, and at any point during the day you're likely to find an excited new boxer working with a trainer on a specific technique.

Danny Williams, famous for his knock-out of Mike Tyson, and several other up-and-coming pro-boxers train and take part in matches at The Ring.

With amateur and professional matches happening bimonthly, CityBoxer also hosts outside events including black-tie functions and corporate team-building, as well as other gigs and festivals.

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