A NEW community boxing gym aiming to get youngsters off the streets of Rayleigh is set to open its doors next year.

The Rayleigh Community Boxing Club is looking to open in January, with a range of recreational clubs aimed at young adults to get them into boxing.

The team behind the club says there has already been lots of interest ahead of the opening of the club in Castle Road.

Head coach, Anthony Rowe, 64, from Rayleigh, said: “If I can turn one life around, that is an achievement, because for boxing you must be dedicated and it is very good for mental health.

“A lot of kids have problems and boxing can be a safe space.

“We are all volunteers, all we need is enough to cover the rent and the lease, I will be running different classes.

“There are a couple of guys who suffer with Parkinson’s, and they want to do boxing workouts, we offer all ability levels. I’ve been taking kids from the age of nine on.

“I have been working with Rochford and Rayleigh councils since this building has been mothballed and I put a plan together and have had various meetings.”

Anthony began his boxing career in Rayleigh in 1997 and later moved to Australia before returning and wanting to do something for the community.

Rayleigh Community Boxing Club secretary and Benfleet resident, Amanda Lucas, said: “It would be great to have for the area and there is nothing in Rayleigh. There has bee quite a lot of interest.

“It’s somewhere my own son will be going to. He has been coached for five years, it’s good for discipline and it gives them something to focus on.”

The boxing club is hoping to have a ribbon cutting opening, with former professional boxer Michael Watson set to attend as guest of honour.