Johnstown ABC Boxing

We are delighted to hear that one of Ireland's biggest boxing clubs, Johnstown ABC, recently found a new premise and has now moved into their new home on Cannons Row. They would have preferred to have moved closer into the heart of Johnstown but the predicament that the club experienced is the latest scandal to hit our area. 

There's a clear look of relief from the coaches, delighted they're no longer faced with being homeless.

The club was on the brink of going out of existence and leaving 100's of kids on the street due to lack of alternative facilities in the Johnstown area. Despite such large population the area has no community or sporting facilities meaning the thousands of teenagers have literally nothing to do but to hang around the streets. 

We asked Club Owner Phillip Rooney what the last year has been like?

"I looked all over Navan for a premises, called into builders, politicians, Councillors, business owners in a bid to secure a new home but to no avail. It seems that no one was willing and able to help us. I find this deeply disturbing as I set up the Johnstown club to support an area that has no facilities. Coming from Ballymun in Dublin I know the dangers of having no facilities for teenagers and what the results can be. There are over 3000 houses in Johnstown and not one pitch, one playground or community hall."

"I’ve spent the last 8 months searching for a new site and the owner of our current premises, has asked us to leave immediately. We were literally squatting upstairs in the hope that we would find something." 

"I was at the end of my tether and felt we within weeks of the club falling out of existence. If that happened there would be a lot of disappointed kids and parents. Over the years we’ve had some great success stories where parents have brought their angry, troublesome young teenagers to our doors and the discipline and camaraderie of the club have helped them turn their lives around."

How does it feel now?

"We're all very relieved to have a premise and the pressure is off for now. We've a lot of work now to make this building our home."

Are you disappointed that it's still not in Johnstown?

" We've been desperately looking at any and every available premise and it's such a shame that the Old Energie Gym didn't become the Johnstown Community Centre and our shared home. Instead we're still on the other side of the Boyne River and it's a fair bit further for the members to travel but we avoided closing our doors."

Johnstown ABC have a wide collection of video clips on their Facebook Page and these few illustrate what takes place.

Active Kids

Active Adults

More than boxing

Parkvilla Football Workout

Philip is keen to highlight that they are not looking for financial support as they are self sufficient:

"As you can imagine running a club with all the costs including facilities, 2 rings, bags, pads, gloves, weights etc is very expensive. We have been running boxfit classes to help support the club and as a result we are able to pay 800 euro rent for the premises. We have never missed a payment despite the seasonality of the sport meaning that for parts of the year the club is quite."

Group photograph taken with some of the club members when they were faced with the prospect of the club ending due to lack of a venue.

Club coach Kat Clarke, who has been with the club for the last two years is keen to highlight the impact that the club has on the lives of its members: 

"What people don't see is what is happening behind closed doors. We run baby boxfit classes to help parents to get out. New mothers are prone to depression and isolation and being able to come to these classes bringing the kids with them gives them a place where they can socialise and keep active. It gives them that little happiness."



"We provide a low cost membership for the club. For 10 euro a week the kids can come every night of the week. It is like a home to them. Some of these kids are coming in at 6 and are not leaving till the doors are closed. The effects that this has is hard to imagine. We have kids coming in here who are bullied, dragged down here by their parents frustration because they are sitting in the rooms playing computers all day, hanging around street corners, drinking, taking drugs. Because there is nothing to do for them and coming down here gives them a place to release their frustration in a safe secure environment."

"One of our national champions came to us 5 years ago. When he first came down his parents were desperate. He was constantly in trouble and hanging around with the wrong crowd. He was angry and frustrated. He is now a role model to all the younger members. He's won county and national titles and is just recently joined the army. His mother has been in tears when thanking us.

We have another great example only recently. A child came down here who was forced to play football for the last three years but hated every minute of it. His parents were worried because he wouldn't take to any sport and was carrying a bit of weight. He hasn't missed a night since he started with us. He is very keen, is always asking questions. One of the best thing is the smile and relief you can see in his dads face.

We have kids from the care system in with us every night. One particular member who is in that system only said to me a couple of weeks ago that myself, Phil and Raj (another coach with the club) are their family. They were in a dark place when they came down here first. What are they going to do if this club disappears. And that is only one example."

We run boxfit classes it will be another massive loss to the community. The boxfit classes help support the boxers and that has also become like a big family. We had a girl who came down to us before Christmas and was very over weight. She has lost so much weight (14kg) and is such a happier person as a result. I could give you 50 examples of those kind of stories."

"I'm a young mother myself, I know the importance and impact of staying active from a mother's point and a child's point because all you want is the best for your kids. We are not just a boxing club were a family who care."

Whatever your ability and whatever your ambition you'll find a team of motivated and enthusiastic people at Johnstown ABC Boxing Club ready to help bring out the best in you. They have a strong commitment and passion not only to boxing but also to people of all ages and abilities. 

Coaches Kat, Philip, Joe, Hughie and Raj.

If you think you have seen enough you haven't, they participated in the 2015 Hell and Back Competition which shows their determination and commitment when faced with a challenge. 2017 is going to be a year full of adventure for them not just with the move and continued fight for facilities in Johnstown but with more adventures like hell and back to help keep up with the running costs associated with the running of the club. 

Some of the Club Members at Hell and Back 2015

Go along to the new venue and meet the coaches Kat, Philip, Joe, Hughie and Raj and their family of members. 

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