A conversation with Jarred Partridge head coach of Chichester Boys Boxing Club about the successes of the amateur boxing club over recent years and their new Southbourne gym
What was happening in London yesterday?
We had one of our senior boxers who has boxed with us as an amateur, and has now turned professional. He’s going into the professional side of boxing, which is exciting times. So, we went up to London yesterday to sit in front of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) for an interview; to see if they would grant his licence. And yeah, we were successful. So we made a bit of history there, because the amateur club has been going on for nearly a hundred years and there’s no one turned professional out of the club. We have had some very good fighters. Very good successes throughout the amateur stages. So, yesterday was a good day!
What kind of testing was it?
In the build-up, before you have your interview, you have to send all your documents and they research into you. Then, the interview is where they want to meet you in person and test your personality a little bit. Because, if you are a licence holder for the BBBofC, you represent them so they want to make sure you are worthy of that.
That’s really exciting for you! When did you meet Tommy Jonson? And when did you start training together?
He came to me about three years ago. He boxed as a junior and youth out of local clubs, then came to me as a senior. Which are the transition from wearing head guards to not wearing them anymore, and you start doing three-minute rounds instead of two-minute rounds. He was an open class boxer and he fancied a change, so he came to me and we just jelled within the first week. He came for a trial and he ended up finishing ten senior fights with me.
Then during the lockdown, we started training here at Batton Boxing Southampton, with the professionals – as I had links with the team here. Batton Boxing is a very successful gym. Boys travel from all over the country to come here. I have a very successful amateur gym. When the lockdown came, the amateur boxing had to stop, and I was lost really – because that’s my life. Long story short, I managed to get in contact with Wayne to see if he needed a hand and he said come on down. Wayne and I hit it off. I took my pro licence, got a trainers licence. So here we are, we have got a lot of good talent at Chichester Boys Boxing Club that will soon filter into the pro ranks over the next few years.
So it’s mainly due to your connections that boys from the Chichester club are coming through to the professional side?
Yes, in a way. Some of the professionals are here now as we speak. We’ve got Mark Chamberlain over there – as you can see, he’s a four-time national champion in the amateurs and nine as a pro, and he lives just around the corner from my gym. So sometimes, what we will do is Wayne will trust me and Mark will sometimes train with me.
That’s really positive and exciting to hear something like that come out of lockdown.
I do not know a lot about boxing but I do know that boys have a combination that they favour. What is Tommy’s combination?
Yeah, it’s a good question because Tommy Jonson does not have a typical pro-style, but he does have a unique style that beats and troubles a lot of pros, from good up and coming prospects to world champions. Tommy has sparred the likes of Antony Fowler, a brilliant European fighter, and Chris Ubank, a world level fighter.
But in terms of punching, he has got one of the best jabs in the business. You know the power and a hook will take you so far, but a jab will take you around the world.
Where do you think his first professional match will take place?
We are not too sure, as the promotional side of the business is still not settled. We still have to finalize a few contracts. More than likely in London. We are hoping to have at the Boal Call in east London which is the den of boxing in Britain. Top venue.
Do you think that these future shows in London and Tommy moving to the pros will bring more interest to the Chichester Boys Boxing Club?
That’s a really good point because I keep talking about the pro route, but really, Chichester is a very good amateur club. We have just had a boy Connor McCormack win the national titles, so he’s the number one in England. We have multiple national titles, and some of the best boys in the country. Sam McQueen, who’s boxing next week in the quarter-finals of the youth championship. We are a rapidly growing club, with boys wanting to join us from all over the UK.
Chichester Boys Club is based in Little London Road Chichester has been there for nearly a hundred years. I boxed for that club as a kid and so did my brother and lots of friends. It got to a point, well I started suffering from labyrinthitis which is when you get dizzy spells and suffer from vertigo. So I had to stop boxing at 17. But, I began to help out with the coaching side of things. Then I spent a few years building a career and didn’t really get involved with boxing. Then, an old boy called Jack Hood who ran this club for fifty years, recently passed away last year, unfortunately. He was an icon of boxinginChichester.Heboxedfor the club himself and then ran the club. I gave him a lift home from a boxing competition in Bogner and he said to me “We are looking for someone to take over the club. It’s running down, there’s no one there.” So my brother Jack and I took over the club four years ago. It was just a run-down club in the same hall it has been in for many many years. You used to have to set up the ring and the bags at the end and the beginning of every session. We hit the ground running – we turned that club around like you wouldn’t believe. Within the first two years, we achieved more results and bred more champions than the club has ever had in the whole duration of its standing. And now we have had a new gym built.
How’s it feel training in the new gym?
The facilities are fantastic. It’s a huge upgrade, but you can’t help but miss that little bit of history and the spit and sawdust from the old gym. But it’s all about onwards and upwards. It means that we can grow as a club.
If you were a young person starting out, what is the first step to getting into boxing?
The first step is to enjoy it. That means everything. It’s a very dangerous sport, and a very hard sport if you don’t enjoy it. So I always say to anyone who’s looking to get into it that they should have a couple of trial sessions where they can make sure they are going to enjoy it. Boxing is famous for discipline and respect – which you will find in the gym along with a lot of hard work. If you enjoy that you are halfway there.
I remember when I was at school we had a boxing taster session, which was great fun.
Yeah, we get asked to do that as well.
So, after you have been boxing for say two years, what kind of benefits do you see – not just in the ring where you are faster and stronger, but in your work and personal life?
So, going back to boxing being about discipline, respect and hard work. If you have done that week in week out for two years, you know you are then immune to those things. That is just part of your muscle set and who you are as a person. We have kids that started when they were ten years old, they are now fourteen fifteen, that’s a massive difference. Being 21-22-25 that’s not a big difference. But these important years growing up as a teenager we have seen huge improvements; school reports are better, kids are better at home, they aren’t in as much trouble outside school – it’s life-changing. This sport is life- changing. Fact. It doesn’t matter whether you are the best boy in the country – I train 8-year-olds who are complete beginners, to Mark Chamberlain who’s one of the best boys in the country. All that matters is that they enjoy it and they portray the sport well in and outside of the ring.
I remember there being a lot of casual matches at universities. But I have never been to a proper gym or club like this one. It’s very impressive. I like the high-energy atmosphere.
It’s a growing sport, and everyone wants to get a piece of the action. It’s very easy as well to get involved and I respect anyone who does.
I bet there are a lot of great friendships made through boxing, aren’t there?
Loads! I have friends up and down the country through boxing. Because you matchmake all the time; you have to contact other clubs to see if their boy will fight your boy. Or if you can meet up for some sparring. Through the amateurs and now into the pro scene, I have made some great friends.
What is the most important place for you?
Chichester Club is where I want to be. Obviously, I travel to other gyms and I come here to Batton as well, but being in your own gym – there is nothing quite like it. Plus, the less time away from the family the better.
Very true. How is your family? And how do they like boxing?
So recently my life has changed – I had a daughter born twelve weeks ago.
So that makes boxing and training a little more difficult for me because I am in the gym all day every day, and I am trying to run a business as well. Fortunately, I have some really good guys at work so that does work. For the last however many years, I have spent nearly every evening out. So it does take its toll. But this is the kind of sport which, unless you are a hundred per-cent-committed and prepared to make sacrifices, you will not be successful. You can’t do it with your cup half-filled.
To end our chat, do you have anything that you would like to share?
A very special thank you to these guys for all their hard work and constant support the club – it wouldn’t be the same without: Ashley Whiting, Mark Smith, Dave Smith, Jez Straw, Ricky Wills and Richard Oxley.
To contact Jarred Partridge use firstname.lastname@example.org