One of the biggest boxing gyms in the UK is opening in the Capital under ambitious plans to establish a string of clubs aimed at boosting fitness amongst the city’s youth.
Former amateur champion Bradley Welsh is spearheading the bid to open ten new boxing gyms across Edinburgh over the next year.
The gyms will be affiliated with Amateur Boxing Association Scotland, a newly formed charity promoting fitness and health.
The first gym launched under the project, which is set to be opened by former world super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe in the coming weeks, is located in an 8500sq feet former office space on Gorgie Road.
Although the majority of users are expected to be adults, Welsh said that children as young as seven can enrol in classes to keep physically active.
The 39-year-old, who won the British ABA lightweight title in 1993, said that coaching could also help steer youngsters away from crime and antisocial behaviour.
He said: “We’re trying to engage with any youngster at an early age where we can divert their energies into something positive like keeping fit.
“PE in schools can be as little as an hour a week. There’s lot of sports out there, but facilities are often poor. I want to create opportunities for them take part in sport.
“This is not about getting kids to punch each other, it’s about burning up their energy in a good way.”
Welsh said that other gyms were “looking for the next champion”, an approach his venues will reject. He added: “If you have that mentality you’re going to turn away 99 per cent of people who might simply want to keep fit. Our gyms will be about helping those 99 per cent.”
Welsh hopes that converting unused buildings will help to regenerate communities. He said: “There are so many empty buildings and office spaces.
“These are the places that we want to turn into gyms to give them a purpose. I would ask anyone who has an unused building or wants to set up a gym to get in contact with us.”
Amateur Boxing Association Scotland has been set up with board members from firms including solicitors McEwan Fraser and HBJ Gateley, and restaurant group Montpeliers.
A second 5000sq ft gym affiliated with the charity is set to open in Granton shortly. Further gyms are earmarked for locations in the Inch and Kirkliston, as well as facility in Musselburgh, East Lothian.
Welsh, who already runs the Holyrood Gym on Duddingston Road, added: “Gorgie Road will be our biggest gym, but we’re hoping to open ten to cover communities across the city. “Myself and the board feel that we have a social responsibility to try and make a difference.”