Chris bounces from his office like a young Balboa heading into the ring, wasting no time in telling us all about the boxing club he’s built with our community at its heart…
Tell us how you discovered boxing.
My interest in boxing started at a young age. I competed at an amateur level until the age of 29 before training to become a professional England Boxing coach. It’s what I’ve always known – and even my great-grandfather was a boxer, so I think it’s in the bloodline!
What led to the opening of Gauntlett Boxing Club?
Before opening the club, I recognised that the majority of boxing environments weren’t catering for everyone. I wanted to go against the rest and do things the Gauntlett way. I wanted to create a family. That’s what we are doing here, supporting one another.
Why did you choose Epsom & Ewell as the home of Gauntlett?
I’d built a reputation here, both as a boxer and a coach, so it wouldn’t have worked to go into an unknown area. I believe you’re only as good as the team you’ve got around you; I’ve got the best England Boxing coaches here and I wouldn’t want them from anywhere else.
Was it challenging leaving the ring behind to become a coach?
Being on the other side of the ropes is the nearest feeling I can get to competing. I could not be without boxing in my life, it’s a part of me. Coaching keeps me connected to the sport and I feel very happy doing what I’m doing.
Why was it important for you to create a community-centered boxing culture?
The sport is renowned for changing people’s paths and this is definitely the case for me. When I was young I could have easily gone down the wrong road, but boxing helped me focus my energy into something positive. It put me on the right track and I knew it could do the same for other people.
Do you see this within the community at Gauntlett?
Absolutely, I can see myself in so many of the young kids that come here. Boxing gives them the confidence, discipline and self-esteem that they need. Of course, they come here to have fun, but also to work. I’m their friend as well as their coach, so I hope they trust me in teaching them to channel their energy through boxing.
What’s the secret to creating a family feel?
Whether you’re boxing competitively or not, all members can learn from one another. For example, I’ve got champion boxers that also help train the juniors. As well as boxers that fight on the television, also helping train the younger members of our family. We involve everyone and always give back.
What are we letting ourselves in for at a Gauntlett training session?First and foremost, we want to have fun. Then, we concentrate on perfecting the styles, learning the techniques and truly understanding the art of the sport.
Can anyone walk through the door at Gauntlett Boxing Club?
Absolutely, we welcome everyone! No one will feel intimidated or threatened here – and best of all, you don’t need any boxing experience to get involved.
How can we benefit from boxing?
It can help us all switch off from the daily stresses of life and focus on the present moment. It stimulates endorphins and I honestly think it’s the best form of cardiovascular exercise available.
What does the future hold for Gauntlett Boxing Club?
I want to see more members and champions walk through the barn here in Epsom & Ewell. It would be a challenge but, of course, I’d love to open another gym and extend our family to another community.
“I’ve got to be grateful for my family, friends and the Epsom & Ewell residents for their continued support and belief. Everyone needs a bit of that, don’t they?” Chris concludes.
He shakes our hand and, with a smile beaming from his face, heads back into the barn to coach and inspire another group of locals.
Gauntlett Boxing Club offers a free taster class to anyone looking to get involved with boxing. See voucher on p41 of the magazine!
Words by Faye Hardy
Photography by @alexwroephoto