A new boxing club has opened its doors offering help to kids to avoid antisocial behaviour and crime.

Hemlington Boxing Club in Middlesbrough opened over the weekend and aims to teach children “discipline” to avoid trouble.

The community interest company – supported by funding from the Government’s Safer Streets 4 initiative – has seen the derelict former Cleveland Juniors compound next to Hemlington Recreation Centre given a complete makeover.

The £15,000 grant has helped fund the building’s refurbishment, as well as new equipment and free sessions for local young people.

The club is run by local amateur boxers John Waldon, John Waldon Snr and Denis Lowe.

Founder John Waldon said: “When we asked local kids what they most wanted to see the local area, the majority said a boxing gym.

“We were really concerned about the amount of crime and antisocial behaviour, and we know from our own experience how a gym like this can give young people the discipline to keep away from trouble and off the streets.

“By joining up they’ll get fit and make new friends – and who knows, we might just produce a world champion, and that would put this place on the map for all the right reasons.

“A great many people have put in a lot of hard work to make this happen, but I’d particularly like to thank Joanne McCabe, Hana and Pauline for their hard work and support.”

It is being supported by Recovery Connections, the Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner for Cleveland and Middlesbrough Council.

The club held an open day on Saturday (February 17) to allow local people to visit the club, meet those working on the project, and find out how to get involved.

Middlesbrough Mayor Chris Cooke, who attended the gym for a quick sparring session ahead of Saturday’s launch event, said: "This is a brilliant example of community spirit, commitment, passion and hard work coming together to make a real difference.

"A gym like this has the potential to change an area for good, and we’ll do everything we can to support such a worthwhile venture.

"It’s for girls as well as boys, and people of all ages – it will create real role models for others to follow.”

Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Steve Turner said: “My team and I have put a huge amount of effort into Hemlington alongside our partners over the last 18 months and have already seen major improvements in crime and ASB reports.

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"That said, we always knew there was more to do and it’s fantastic to see this dream become a reality.

“There’s no doubt the Hemlington Boxing Club will be an important part of the local community for many years to come and its positive impact will be felt across the community.

"Boxing may not be for everyone but for many it helps develop discipline and focus, confidence and self-esteem - and those are great things for people of all ages."