As a teenager Preston’s MP Mark Hendrick was no stranger to the world of boxing.
And now the politician has picked up his boxing gloves again and stepped into the ring at Preston’s Larches and Savick Boxing Club - with an Olympic hopeful.
Mr Hendrick visited the club and was given the opportunity of sparring with Scott Fitzgerald.
In his teeanger years Mr Hendrick was a boxer and during the visit he was given a tour of the club’s new building, which houses a 20ft competition boxing ring and training equipment in the open plan gym.
He opened the original Phoenix Boxing Club in July 2002.
“Boxing has certainly had an impact on my life and it taught me respect, discipline, and self-confidence,” said Mr Hendrick.
The new building was opened in July last year and replaced the former youth club which was in turn transformed into the Phoenix Boxing Club.
The club currently attracts a large number of children from the west parts of the city, particularly from the Larches and Savick areas. Olympic hopefuls Scott Fitzgerald, National Amateur Boxing Association Light-Middleweight champion and Lisa Whiteside, world number two, European Gold Medallist and four time Amateur Boxing Association of England champion, have been training at the club for the last seven years.
Scott has recently been signed up to compete in the Commonwealth Games and both have been picked to represent Great Britain at the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro.
Mr Hendrick added: “There’s no doubt the club has had a huge impact in reducing youth crime in the area and should be proud of the being the only club in the country to turn out two members for Team GB.”
“I have followed the club at Larches since I first opened it and it’s inspiring to know that we have top class boxers like Scott and Lisa who are on course to rise all the way to the top.
“It’s encouraging as well for the kids to come in off the streets and train alongside aspiring Olympians.”
Club chairman, Joe Kilshaw said: “This gym was always meant to be a community facility- it’s open for anyone to use. Everyone who comes here always say’s how brilliant it is to train in a gym while watching the action in the ring.”
Mick ‘The Hammer’ Hall training whilst you’re on the fitness equipment around the edge of the ring.”
The Larches and Savick Boxing Club has eight qualified instructors and is open to children aged eight and over.