A ONE-TWO combination has fired Henry Wharton with the power-packed energy he brought to an illustrious professional career two decades ago.
Now the owner and head trainer at Henry’s Gym in Acomb – the biggest boxing club in York – he has unveiled plans for his first show.
And while that was a knockout boost for the one-time undefeated European, Commonwealth and British super-middleweight champion, he was further buoyed by news of financial backing for the York Street club.
Rotherham-based Empire Essentials have agreed a six-year deal with the gym, declared owners Dean Sheriff and Mark Stanley, who now want to see York-based businesses come on board as the club starts to flex its muscle.
Ahead of Wharton’s debut show at the 10,000 square foot premises on Friday, June 6, Sheriff said: “What we have seen here has convinced us that there will be exciting times here with potential champions likely to come from this gym.
“This is a family gym that is part of the community. Our company has always been involved with sports, such as Castleford Tigers (rugby league club) and it is this community connection that appeals.
“What Henry, his family and his team have done here is provide an amenity for the community in which it is teaching kids, and adults, to get fitter, be respectful and have a purpose.
“The transformation here has been miraculous and I am just surprise that no York firms and companies have backed the gym. I am hoping what we have done will kick start more backing from local people.”
Added Sheriff, whose company specialises in industrial adhesives and tapes: “I used to live in York and both myself and Mark have trained here and we have seen how the people who come here, across all ages, have been changed – not just in fitness but in a positive outlook.
“We believe in Henry Wharton and what he is trying to do. We see success coming here and we want to be a part of that over the next six years. I am sure York businesses would also want to be in that.”
Wharton hailed the backing of Empire Essentials, but insisted the club would welcome more support.
“What Dean and Mark have done have ensured there is some longevity, because we want create a club here that will grow and get stronger and churn out good people and maybe some champions,” said the man, who with a small team of family and friends transformed the wrecked shell of the upper floor of the former regent Cinema into a purpose-built, gleaming gym.
Since the transformation has continued though now ringing the changes among the club ‘s burgeoning band of boxers, so much that Wharton is now less than a week away from staging his first show.
And he admitted that he was as excited by the prospect of next Thursday’s event as he was going into battle with the best warriors on the planet. Wharton’s only three defeats in a decade-long professional career were to reigning world champions.
“I am tingling, honest I feel like I did before I met Benn,” said Wharton.
“I have got a band of say 20 lads who are good enough to box, when some of those when they first came to the gym just wanted to get fit and had no intention of getting into the ring.
“Now they are all ready to box and I am trying to find matches for at least 20 bouts, though because a lot of clubs have started to wind down the bill may be 15 or 16 strong.
“But even to think of that to see where these lads have come from, it’s absolutely amazing.”
Wharton also thanked the team around him – Ron Hopley, Tony Murray, Denzil Browne, Lee Quickmire, Dave Morrell and Dominic Curran, plus his wife Amanda and children – for helping him get to this point.
“We are trying to do it the right way. Get fit, box if you want, show respect, no bad-mouthing opponents and acting properly – that’s our way.”
Anyone who wants to provide further support to the gym can phone Wharton on 07543 636424 or check the empire-essentials.com website.