Tommy from Oldham Boxing Club tells us about the plans to move to central Oldham in Victoria House, as Eric shows boxer Ricky Hatton around the new location.
Nearly 50 years ago only 100 yards from where we stand, after a school yard “altercation” as a Derker school pupil, I was ordered to “don the gloves” and box my fellow fighting pupil for 3 rounds within 4 school benches to resolve the “dispute”. Mr Derek Heywood the schools P.E. teacher whose role it was to enforce school policy on fighting and bullying and who was a great teacher and disciplinarian made all the students resolve issues this way with a shaking of hands at the finish and noble end to the matter. Anyone with a boxing potential was directed to the local boxing club to further channel their energies and continue the disciplinary pathway – that was my introduction to the sport!
Oldham Boys club was started by the legendary Jim Gallagher (Mr Gal) in 1958 following his son Terry winning the national schoolboy title. Schoolboy boxing was an integral part of the sporting curriculum in those days with “House Competitions” leading to inter school; regional; and national competition with the prestigious Schools Title being coveted by so many with some 50,000 boxers active nationally. Mr Gallagher trained at this very school 2 evenings a week after school hours while the club relocated in 1961 to Oldham Rugby training facility at Waterhead, this connection forming a long standing association of both codes and from that platform its popularity and success was born in the town.The facility was outgrown by the numbers so the club moved to Waterloo school in 1963 where its success grew even bigger with national junior champions abounding. In 1967 the planned demolition of the school forced another move to a run-down social club back at Waterhead near the “monument”. The poor conditions did little to stem the tide of success and popularity, but as ever the lack of financial support from any governing body left all to the volunteers to generate the support necessary for the many young boxers. Once again in 1971 the club “moved on” to a disused Wernerth Fire Station where again more success followed across the range of national championships. Sadly in 1974 Mr Gallagher died and the “old boys” from the club re-united to organise a benefit show in his name. Further to this a new club was formed in the town and named Gallagher boys club, and both clubs continued to attain the success that “Mr. Gal” had achieved in becoming an historical part of Oldham’s sporting heritage. Further relocations occurred to both clubs, which became a strain on finances and the continued volunteer support needed, and early this year both clubs had ceased to function as boxing clubs! UNTIL TODAY!
Oldham has been one of the most successful towns in the north of England, but to list all the champions would be inappropriate to the exclusion of the hundreds of “success stories” that Oldham boxing has produced without achieving a national titles, particularly in the 60s-80s when competition was so fierce.
50 years on and back to Derker School Annex where it all began! To witness the launch of Oldham Boxing & Personal Development Centre. Following a lifetime of enjoyment/travel/experiences with successes and failures I can only project to you the “magic” of the sport! I have observed how it has touched thousands of likeminded young men and women in and around the Oldham area in a very positive way! The critics of the sport do not see what happens in a boxing club and are foolish not acknowledge the benefits and influences that the sport bestows upon adolescents, reflected in the great upsurge of interest currently from schools and many agencies’ like today’s host D.A.A.T.
From my first nervous steps through the door of Oldham Boys club as a young 11 year-old I have travelled around the world many times with my involvement in the sport. From the highs of Olympic glory (as coach) to the satisfaction of “semi contact” projects in primary schools, the sport has given me the confidence and tools in life that anyone can attain. It is with great pleasure I witness today’s launch of this centre which I hope will touch many future “students” with the “magic” of the sport of Boxing!
For more information please contact the Oldham Boxing and Personal Development Centre, on 0161 628 8466 / email: firstname.lastname@example.org