A community boxing club which aims to get people off the streets and give them a purpose in life has won planning permission for a brand new gym.

The York Masters Boxing Club is now setting out to raise the £70,000 it needs to build the new gym, at the New Earswick Sports Club.

The boxing club was initially set up before lockdown by the Salvation Army’s Charlie Malarkey to give homeless people in the city somewhere to go and something to do during the day.

It was forced to close during the pandemic – but reopened a few months ago with the support of the Salvation Army and York charity Chocolate & Co, which runs a café and offers employment to people who have been homeless or are recovering from drug problems.

Since then, the club – which is currently based in Redeness Street, just off James Street - has thrived, setting up mixed, women-only and under-18 sessions.

Those who join the fitness, training and sparring sessions regularly at the club include homeless people, recovering addicts, refugees, women who want to build up their fitness, and youngsters who dream of becoming fighters.


Salvation Army's free York boxing sessions to help homeless

-  York MP shows she has plenty of punch in visit to city boxing club

York's streets at 5am: meeting the city's rough sleepers

There are regular free sessions for the different groups at different times of the week, both during the day and in the evenings.

The sessions provide an opportunity for users to learn from others who have overcome similar challenges, Charlie says – while also bringing some structure to their lives, and building confidence.

“The atmosphere at the club is brilliant,” he said.

One woman who has been attending the women-only sessions told the Press that it was ‘really empowering’.

“It’s about getting out, feeling more confident, being around other women – and there’s a lovely atmosphere,” she said. “And if I can get myself some self-defence skills, I’ll feel much better."

But the Redeness Street site is going to be developed – so the club needs to find a new home.

It was offered space in the grounds of the New Earswick Sports Club – home of the New Earswick All Blacks, as well as cricket, tennis, football and rugby union teams - to build a brand-new gym and training area.

And the new gym was officially granted planning approval on April 26.

Now the serious fund-raising is about to begin.

“We’ve had some very kind people come forward, and we’ve already got about £30,000,” Charlie said. “But new think we need to raise about £70,000.

There will be a big fund-raising boxing event in a temporary outdoor ring at the New Earswick Sports Club on June 30.

About 30 fighters – many of them York Masters Boxing Club regulars, some taking part in their first organised fights - will be taking to the ring.

And there will be a raffle and other fundraising opportunities.

Simon Malarkey, Charlie’s cousin and the vice-chair of New Earswick Sports Club, said the boxing club was a perfect fit for his club.

It would offer an indoor sport that his club members could enjoy out of season – something they haven’t had before, he said.

He’s optimistic that now planning permission has been granted, it could all come together quite quickly.

“We’re hoping to have it up and running by the end of the year!” he said.