Scorpion Boxing Club has been described by many within the sport as ‘punching above its weight’ with numerous champions created despite having minimal facilities.
Coach Alan ‘Spike’ Martin works tirelessly to ensure the club remains to the fore in local boxing as he works with cross community projects whilst battling to secure grants to help improve the dilapidated facilities for his young proteges whilst attracting new young boxers to the 32 year old club.
At present Spike is heavily involved as the main organiser in Northern Ireland of the Belfast Beltway Boxing Classic which will take place on Friday 13th November in the Titanic Ballroom when a Northern Ireland team will fight the Americans.
The Belfast Beltway Boxing Project offers an annual athletic and cultural exchange program that bridges the gaps between cultures and provides a unique opportunity for children and teenagers, many of whom have never left their own neighborhoods, to develop self-respect and respect for others, expand their horizons, experience international athletic competition and learn about the lives of their peers in other cultures.
Every spring, the Belfast-Beltway Boxing Project offers a cross-community team of youth boxers from Northern Ireland the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for a week to participate in cultural and educational tours with local youth and train at local gyms.
In the autumn, the American team come to Northern Ireland for an equivalent program. Coach Tai-Rhan McBride and his fighters arrive in the Province on Tuesday 10th November and from that point, Coach Martin is hands on liaising and looking after the visitors as well as ensuring the Belfast Beltway Boxing Classic is a success.
“Unfortunately we have noone from Scorpion Boxing in the Classic this year,” said Alan. “It’s just the way it worked out. The Americans are bringing an older, heavier team and I just wasn’t able to marry up any of my fighters with them.
“There is a young boxer from Churchlands Golden Gloves in Coleraine, Paddy Conlon and I selected him to box in it so at least there is still a local connection.
“Even though we don’t have any of our own boxers taking part, Scorpion is still the anchor club and have match the boxers. The Americans are coming here to train on the Wednesday before the fight. They wanted to come to us as they like the style of the gym because it’s like a ‘throw back’ gym. We will also have some of the guys who will be boxing against them here for a joint training session.”
Scorpion Boxing Club has been running for 32 years and has seen champions on the local, national and international stage learn their trade in the Old School House and coach Spike Martin is very keen to see this tradition continue and is hooing to attract new boxers to the club. However, Scorpion are very much the ‘poor relations’ in the sport with the lack of facilities.
“One of our big problems is the facilities here,” added Spike. “But we are fighting for every grant under the sun to try and improve things. We have also done some work ourselves to show how willing we are to make the effort.
“We are hoping that somewhere a long the line our involvment with the Belfast Beltway project will benefit us.
“There is a European Fund that we are looking at and some of the guys involved with the Belfast Beltway Project are helping us with it. The whole thing about the charity is that its about cross community and we are very much a cross community club and that’s the way we like it.
“It seemsm to be if you are an existing club which is practicing that, you don’t get anything. Yet if you live in the heart of the Ardoyne or the heart of the Shankill or some of these places they will fire money at you.
“It’s frustrating because it’s all about keeping the kids off the street. We will keep pushing on and we have brought on a new young coach Declan McKernan and he has just completed his Level One. I have also just done my Level Two along with Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlin.
“We have attracted a good crop of young boys who are coming through so things are looking good for the future .
“We train every Monday, Wednesday and Friday night from 7 until 9pm so if anyone wants to come along and join us they will be made very welcome. ”