Boxing is a sport that has been in the spotlight for the right reasons recently. The Carl Froch v George Groves fight has been a dream advertisement for boxing, bringing a level of attention towards the sport in the UK that hasn’t been seen since Ricky Hatton took on the world.
But for years the sport has struggled to grow, carrying the negative image that it is just about who can take more punches. This is is far from the case. The sport has never struggled to get its numbers and is always going to be competitive. It’s a sport loved by many for decades and since the days of Ali and Fraser, boxing has been a greatly respected sport across the world, but the sport is looking to reach new heights.
A large amount of the credit can be paid to academies that have picked up over the last ten years and are beginning to show up more and more in the local gyms. It’s something the sport has been screaming out for, and the ABA should be excited when looking at the possibilities that could arise.
After seeing this level attention across the country, British boxing will have been hoping that the level of participation will take a big rise with academies across the country that provide a safe environment for people who are looking to get involved in boxing without jumping straight into a fight.
These academies pride themselves on offering a safe way into boxing through learning the skills that some come from it and building fitness. This has led to a large rise of interest in the sport and, the way things are going, boxing could take off to a new level.
One such academy is Barnes Boxing Academy, founded by Steve Barnes, General Manager at The Gym Group. In October 2013, Barnes started his Academy with a view to teaching the skills of Boxing in an energised and educated way.
The academy offers ABA qualified Boxing sessions for all levels of experience and is one of the small steps made by Barnes to try and build a reputation in the county as a trainer.
It gives you good focus in life, you can give it everything you’ve got, and there’s no holding back . The buzz and excitement of it all and the respect for it all is why I love it.
Steven Barnes has been involved in boxing since the age 13 and has been in love in the sport every year since. ’I love how you always go away from the gym feeling good about yourself. It gives you good focus in life, you can give it everything you’ve got, and there’s no holding back . The buzz and excitement of it all and the respect for it all is why I love it.’
Barnes talks fondly of his years involved in the sport especially the time he spent with Quinton Shillingford ’I started boxing when I was 13 years old and then I was boxing at a competitive level until the age of 20. Other clubs, and Shillingford in particular, put me through my coaching qualifications.’
Before becoming a qualified coach, Barnes was a boxer at Titchfield. When asked about his best moment with the club, he appeared to struggle to narrow it down to just one moment. He describes the best part of any fight is being afterwards, when ’you feel proud of yourself and everyone else is proud of you’.
After boxing at Titchfield, Barnes moved on to Heart of Portsmouth and Milbank Southampton. He puts a lot of his achievements in coaching down to the people at Heart of Portsmouth. He ensures to take his boxers to the Heart of Portsmouth regularly to this day. ’I think it’s important that they all get an insight of where I’m coming from’ he says.
Steve strongly believes that any club or academy is important to the lives of young people in local areas, building self esteem and giving focus. Speaking of his time visiting other clubs, he says that ’having a club in any area can change lives. The lives of some of the kids in Eastleigh, for example, were going in a dangerously negative direction. Through boxing, those lives have been turned around into something positive.’
Whilst for many, boxing can start as a casual hobby, the confidence and skills taught at Barnes Boxing Academy can lead to so many of its members taking that next big step of stepping into the ring. For many this may be an intimidating experience, but doing it in a safe environment like the academy makes it so much easier to grow as a boxer.
’Whilst we take on people with experience in boxing, anyone is welcome and we will guide them from the ground up’ Barnes says. ’If it’s ever the case that someone wants to develop their skills into competing or professional boxing, we can pass them on to the right people when they’re ready’.
Whilst we take on people with experience in boxing, anyone is welcome and we will guide them from the ground up
However, Barnes is strongly against the idea that everybody who goes into boxing, has to fight. This is something that the Academy helps to break down, through offering an opening into the sport that highlights the qualities that are gained from the boxing without having to take a punch. Through this, the ABA can hope to improve its numbers as more and more people are given a safe way into the sport.
’My whole aim with opening Barnes Boxing Academy is to encourage everyone to get involved with boxing’ Barnes states. ’Whilst we can guide anyone who wants to get a feel for the ring, there are so many positive elements about it other than competitive fights – such as fitness and conditioning’.
After the Olympics in 2012, many amateur sports that had been struggling to get going for years are now beginning to grow to new levels that seemed unreachable two years ago, such as British boxing.
Barnes states ’there is more than enough evidence to support that we’ve been growing as a club every year. We are getting more and more interest, from students, to children, to professionals, so I think boxing’s growing more and more popular.’
He describes training people from under 16, to over 60, and is confident that any time is a good time to start.
Steve Barnes has clearly been working hard to get to where he is today. Having been involved in so many roles in the sport but his primary focus now is to build upon the already good work that’s been done setting up Barnes Boxing Academy.
’Obviously I would like to expand the Academy’ Steve says. ’I would like to hold our own shows, and develop a positive reputation for the Academy. I want us to be known for teaching boxers the right way – the ABA way – of boxing, and being a credit to the Amateur Boxing Association.’
Given the determination that has fuelled Barnes’ coaching career, the future looks promising for Barnes Boxing Academy, and these aims will soon be small steps in the big picture when looking at what can be achieved.