HARTLEPOOL is a famous boxing town.
It hosts two successful professional teams and three amateur gyms, one of which boasts a world champion.
But that number has now increased to four.
Former Catholic Club coach Paul Barnes is the man behind Hartlepool Elite Boxing Academy, which is a community facility for those interested in starting to box, wanting to hone their skills elsewhere or even people who wish to keep fit.
In light of Team GB’s tremendous boxing success at the Olympics – Team GB won five medals including three golds – Barnes has noted a real thirst for boxing.
That is why he believes another gym in the town is a “long time coming” and he is thrilled that his dream has finally become a reality.
Paul told SportMail: “Since we opened our doors last month, the response from the community has been excellent.
“We have been busting at the seams with people wanting to box and keep fit which makes us believe that a fourth gym in the town has been a long time coming.
“With the Olympics still fresh in our minds it can only be good for our town to have four established gyms back in the community.
“I have spent over a year building this gym. The list is endless of people, sponsors and charities that have helped to make this dream a reality.
“But the biggest thanks goes to my partner Joanne Crossman who has done loads of fund raising to set up the gym as a community interest company - she has been a complete rock and star.”
The gym has four qualified coaches nurturing Hartlepool’s next batch of boxing hopefuls.
Head coach Paul is assisted by Richie Naylor, Wayne McCarte and Gavin Martin, who runs the boxfit.
Kenneth Dobson provides the gym with top of the range equipment and supplements for boxfit users.
But what does the gym, situated in the town’s Longhill Industrial Estate, off Brenda Road, aim to deliver?
“We have set up our gym to provide a training facility for the community,” he said.
“Our main focus is boxing and to teach the art of boxing, however we are also focusing on boxfit which is a 60 minute explosive workout concentrating on all major muscle groups for all ages and abilities.
“We cater for one-to-one coaching for individuals that can’t commit to regular gym times.
“Our gym makes sparring more ready available as well.
“Currently we have carded boxers and are looking to card a further four so it’s good to have old and new faces in the gym. It’s a good mix and exciting times ahead.”
Children under the age of ten can’t participate in contact boxing, so that’s where Paul has stepped in, catering for aspiring boxers too.
He explained: “We have seen lots of parents wanting to get their children into boxing, so the young elite classes now gives them the opportunity to do just that.
“These are every Saturday for ages 6-10 and the sessions focus on fitness and non-contact boxing.”
Those interested in finding out more about the gym can ring Paul on 07746 136712.