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Fundraising team ‘overwhelmed’ as show of support helps safeguard the St Paul’s
 Fundraising team ‘overwhelmed’ as show of support helps safeguard the St Paul’s magic for future generations.


Three years since they first launched their campaign to restore Hull’s historic St Paul’s boxing gym to its former glory, the team behind it are revelling in the £1million refurbishment that finally reflects its status as a foundry for champions.


Money to make the revamp happen has come pouring in from sources including Hull City Council, Sport England, local businesses and fundraisings by the club’s significant number of well-wishers – all very aware of just how special this place really is.

Founded in 1948, St Paul’s Boxing Academy, based in a gym on Church Side, next to Hull Minster in the city centre, has churned out champions of the sport including Olympic Gold Medallist Luke Campbell and Commonwealth lightweight title holder Tommy Coyle. 


However, perhaps even more importantly, it has produced hundreds of ‘champions in life’, setting young people, whatever their background, on the path to success. 


Now, its team of loyal supporters are looking forward to making its facilities available to the wider community, including people living with mental or physical challenges, and to forging fresh links with likeminded organisations with similar goals.


Despite its success in shaping both careers and lives over the years, thanks in large part to lead coach Mike Bromby and his team of volunteers, the building St Paul’s inhabits had fallen into serious disrepair. The fundraising campaign to make it safer and more functional began in 2017, with the vision of making it accessible to all. The campaign was led by a voluntary development committee including John Rutherford, Deputy Chairman of the John Good & Sons shipping company; Dave Garness of Garness Jones Chartered Surveyors; Alan Wood and Partners structural engineers; funding expert Darren Peacock of Peacock Finance, and Property development entrepreneurs Tony and Andrew Horncastle, who are also supporting with the building plans.


Hull City Council, which owns the building, has provided support worth £450,000 towards changes including the repair the roof and installation of a disabled access lift, as well as granting a long-term  lease of the site. 


Also offering their support in a variety of ways, including donating vital sports kit, are over 30 local firms including The Business Culture Hull, James Legal Solicitors; MMS Ship Repair, who constructed a new boxing ring and punch bag frames; VRHQ which donated a 3D interactive tour of the new premises to help market the newly-refurbished gym, showing off the fantastic transformation and allowing people to look around the whole premises, and even experience standing in the ring. Andrew Jackson Solicitors; Try Lunn & Co; Burstall’s Solicitors and scaffolding firm Bambu were also part of the committed team that contributed to the transformation.


And they received donations from a number of local charities and businesses including The Tribune Trust, Hull & East Riding Charitable Trust, the Matthew Good Foundation and Howden Rotary Club.

John Rutherford said: The support we’ve received has been unbelievable. More than £300,000 of the total was raised locally from charities and our supporters running fundraising events, it’s been incredible.

“Although the place was clearly in disrepair, there was always a sense of just how special it was – both in terms of the activities taking place here, the absolute dedication of people like Mike Bromby and the building itself, which is stunning.

“However, although that was true locally, we needed to raise awareness, further afield, about what’s been going on here, to galvanise support for that. 

“My own first experience of St Paul’s was six years ago, when Mike came to my rotary club branch to talk about the work he had done training Luke Campbell, but ended up talking also about the work he and the club had done in changing lives, and I was just so impressed, I just felt it was something I needed to get behind.

“The amount of people that have come through the gym and been given a chance is incredible, and the boxing is just one part of it.”

The club currently has a membership of 275, which is growing rapidly, according to John, with plans to further build participation among girls. While the refurbishment was ongoing, and COVID-19 lockdowns made training at the club itself impossible, John explained how trainers like Mike were running outdoor sessions in local parks, and offering online classes via social media which received tens of thousands of hits.


The club now has 20 adult coaches, who regularly give up their time to run sessions throughout each week, and they are running as many classes as possible again, while observing COVID-secure guidelines, gradually easing restrictions in line with England Boxing rules.


They have already begun building new partnerships, too, including with the Cat-Zero initiative that uses sailing to give struggling young people a sense of purpose and teamwork, Hull College, Hull’s Aspire Academy and local NHS mental health services. John explained that these kinds of relationships, as well as encouraging more and more people to get involved, will form a major part of the club’s evolution from this point. “We’ve set up a new admin system for membership, so that we can monitor things a lot more closely and see how we’re growing,” he said. 


“We want to be able to demonstrate how we’re helping an increasing number of people from a broader range of society, including people with mental health issues and physical impairment.

“This, in turn, will enable us to apply for further grants, and help even more people. We’ve already started going out to more community organisations that have similar goals, such as Cat Zero, who are now planning to use the gym every fortnight as part of their initial three-month training programme. Mike’s working with some young people from Hull College, who are struggling to fit in, once a week. He’s doing similar work with some of the most challenging youngsters from the Aspire Academy on Preston Road, and he and his team are also in touch with the mental health arm of the local NHS.”

John continued: “Some of the young people who come through the gym are on the brink of offending and we have some from Hull Youth Justice, who have offended and have been linked up with community work to try to help them turn their lives around. Mike has been working with a number of them and, as far as we know, they haven’t offended since

“The challenges our young people face, vary. A lot of them have disrupted family lives. Some are being bullied, others are struggling to fit in with life at school. However, we find that giving them some responsibility as assistant trainers, and, above all, some positive adult attention, structure and something to work towards, really can transform their lives.

“That’s one of the most positive things about St Paul’s. Because we have 20 coaches, even when they’re working in large groups, doing pad work or something else, while each child is practicing their skills, they have the complete, one-to-one attention of the trainer who is committed to doing their very best for them. This is often something they don’t get in other areas of their lives.

“That’s how St Paul’s creates this sort of positive, caring environment, which, in some respects is probably the complete opposite of what someone would expect from a boxing club. The boxing is really just the way in.”

The refurbishment includes new showers and changing rooms, a new kitchen, the restoration of the interior roof space to reveal the stunning vaulted ceiling which was  boarded over previously, new heating and the creation of a glass-fronted viewing area for boxing officials and parents watching the sporting activities. 


The St Paul’s team have also invested in new IT facilities to enable them to, among other things, video and play back sparring sessions so that the competitors can learn how to perfect their technique.

 Alumni of the club, many of whom have achieved real success in their adult lives, talk affectionately about what it did for them, and the very different direction their lives could have taken without it. This is evident in the caring relationships Mike builds with his young charges.

“It can be really heartrending for Mike at times, as he usually has three or four within his membership who are close to suicide, running away from home or in some other form of crisis, but they’ll call him and he does his best to help. It’s just amazing,” added John.

While the capital costs of refurbishing the club have now been met, the team’s focus is now on covering its running costs, to enable it to help as many, diverse, individuals and groups as possible. The goal is to have at least 1,000 people using the facilities every year.

As well as bringing in more subs as the club is able to increase its number of classes and attract even more members, John and the team are urging sponsors and well-wishers to keep coming forward to help.

“As we do more, the running costs of the club are going up as well. While we’re hugely grateful for what all the donators have done thus far, we’d just urge them not to forget that this isn’t the end of the road and it’s now about keeping the club going on a weekly and monthly basis.

And they are urging anyone interested in making the most of its services – whether young or older – and wanting to take part in either boxing or general fitness activities, to get in touch. They also want to hear from clubs and other organisations that work with people who might benefit, too.

Anyone interested in getting involved, or finding out more about how they can help, can contact Mike and the team via the club’s website, at

Notes for Editors 

For more information, or to arrange interviews or photography, please contact Tracy Fletcher, of By Tracy Fletcher Limited PR, on 07983 633385 or  


The biggest amateur sports club in Hull, St Paul’s Boxing Academy was established in 1948. 


As well as successfully training some of the most renowned boxers in the world, its sporting reputation is second-to-one. It was the first boxing club in the country to receive the Sport England Clubmark quality accreditation, which covers aspects like safeguarding, strong financial management and coaching standards. 


It also won the Hull Daily Mail Sports Club of the Year accolade in 2018. 


Its members range in age from five to 60 years, and take part for a variety of reasons, from keeping fit to socialising and learning some serious boxing skills – around 50 of them are card-carrying competitive boxers. At the present time, 57 of its 275 members are female.