PROTESTING boxers say they aren’t ‘knocked out’ by the new gym they believe they are being priced out of using.
Members of Horsley Hill Amateur Boxing Club were invited for a first look inside the new £1.6m Marsden Road Health and Wellbeing Centre.
The club, which has been turning out professional boxers for more than 40 years, claims South Tyneside Council agreed to give it a permanent spot at the new community hub.
But the council says the club must rent the sports hall on a permanent basis or use a “pop-up” ring, which has to be assembled and packed down for every training session.
When the centre opened on Saturday, head coach Steve Winter was less than impressed with the venue and its lack of boxing facilities.
He said: “There’s nothing there for us. It’s basically a badminton court, and who really is going to want to play that round here?
“We helped the council draw up the plans, told them what we required and there’s none of that in there.
“The council keeps saying our plans have been embedded into the designs but I am challenging them to show us where.”
Mr Winter has been told the rent for using a demountable boxing ring will be £25 an hour.
But if the club wants a permanent ring in the building, it will have to pay £25 an hour for every hour that the centre opens throughout the entire year.
Members have been protesting over the new rules for the last fortnight and say they have received fantastic support from the community.
The centre has been developed by South Tyneside Council and replaces the former Horsley Hill Community Centre, which closed last year as it was beyond economic repair.
More than 200 residents took part in the open day, aimed at showing off the new centre’s features.
The new centre, which was paid for by South Tyneside Council and the National Health Service, is being managed on the council’s behalf by local charity Groundwork South Tyneside and Newcastle.
Andrew Watts, executive director of Groundwork, said: “There was a good turnout on the day, with lots of positive comments about the building, especially the sports hall and multi-use games area.
“We want the new centre to be at the heart of the local community and this was definitely a good start.”