Jennings has one eye on the future

Michael Jennings and some of the members of The Jennings Community Boxing Academy, Coppull
Michael Jennings and some of the members of The Jennings Community Boxing Academy, Coppull
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Chorley boxer Michael Jennings is planning a career on the other side of the ropes after opening a boxing gym.

The ex-WBU welterweight champion still harbours hopes of a return to the ring himself after a two-year absence with a shoulder injury.

But in partnership with his brother Dave, he has set up the Jennings Community Boxing Academy at Coppull Mill, Coppull.

Their aim is providing a safe environment for youngsters to keep fit and learn about boxing, and in time produce some budding amateur boxers.

It should soon be ABA affiliated after a recent inspection by officials.

Jennings, 35, told the Evening Post: “This is a really exciting venture and a big challenge for us.

“I’d been coaching and training a few kids for 12 months, and decided the next step would be to open a gym.

“We’ve applied for ABA affiliation and they inspected the other day, so we’re just waiting for the green light on that one.

“Once we get the affiliation we can start looking at putting some of our lads into bouts.

“We’ve already got plenty of people using the gym, both young and old.

“While we want to produce good amateur boxers, the gym is open to anyone who wants to learn about the sport and stay fit.

“It’s important that kids aren’t wandering the streets with nothing to do. This is an opportunity for them to come into a proper facility and do something positive.

“As we go forward we’ll build up the facilities. At the moment we have everything we need, but in time we want to progress.

“With regards to potential, we’ve got some really good kids training with us who I think could push on and box to a good standard.

“One step at a time though – we’re just pleased to have got the gym open and up and running.”

Jennings, nicknamed the Lurcher, enjoyed a successful boxing career.

He turned professional in 1999 and won his first title four years later – the WBU International welterweight belt.

From there he won the English and British welterweight belts.

In April 2007, Jennings was crowned WBU welterweight champion after victory over Mehrdud Takaloo at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

And he successful defended that title the following year.

In February 2009, Jennings fought Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Gardens in New York for the vacant WBO welterweight title, losing in the fifth round.

His last appearance in the ring was a defeat to Kell Brook in September 2010.

Said Jennings: “I’ve just started training again after having a bad shoulder for a quite a while.

“I’m going to see how things go and if I’m okay, I would like to fight again.

“I’ve been out now for two years and I do miss it, although the coaching is enjoyable.”