Boxing gym finally opens in Corfe Castle after five year fight

A new boxing gym has opened in Corfe Castle in Dorset aimed at giving Purbeck youngsters a sense of discipline, respect and purpose – but it nearly didn’t happen due to a planning battle that lasted years.

Professional boxing coach Paul Dwyer has set up the club to give the youth of Purbeck a place to go which teaches them life skills, while at the same time keeping them off the streets.

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Purbeck Power boxing gym has been built on agricultural land in Corfe Castle

Schools may offer boxing as part of GCSE

His plan to turn a tumbledown stable off the main A351 through Corfe Castle into a permanent boxing gym with the latest equipment was supported by youth leaders, local schools and teenagers who were excited by the proposals.

But it also met with objections from a handful of people concerned by noise nuisance, access to the gym and parking off East Street which delayed plans by five years and cost Paul thousands of pounds to fight.

Purbeck Power Boxing Gym finally opened on Tuesday 9th May 2023 and Paul says that both The Purbeck School and The Swanage School are already considering using the centre to offer boxing as part of their GCSE sports curriculum.

And as concerns continue to grow in Swanage about the lack of facilities and things for youngsters to do, Paul says he feels frustrated that he hadn’t been able to offer the gym years ago.

Boxing coach Paul Dwyer is finally ready to start his new gym

“A nightmare getting gym established”

Paul said:

“It has been an absolute nightmare getting a gym established in Corfe Castle, a real struggle with bureaucracy. We applied in 2018, but there were a few people in the village who opposed it, then the parish council objected and when they did, Dorset Council did too.

“It could all have been finished years ago, and without the need to pay thousands of pounds to a planning consultant. It has been very frustrating, I only got the planning regulations through at Christmas and the whole process has really worn me down.

“I ran a boxing gym in Swanage many years ago, starting off in the youth centre to get the kids off the street and we grew so much that we had 30 to a class and needed to find a larger place.

“As the lads started getting better and better I needed to put bags up and get more professional. It had just been about fitness and mental health and getting them off the street, but around a third of them wanted to box seriously and that’s quite an expense.

“You need a ring and bags and as they are too heavy to keep putting up and taking down, you also need a permanent base.

“Despite everything, the boxing took off, we had some regional champions and some of the lads who appeared to have no hope at school are now running businesses of their own and have made a great success of their lives. A lot of that is down to boxing and the discipline which helped them do that.”

The gym is fully kitted out with the latest equipment

A promise to add full soundproofing

Corfe Castle landowner Michael Bond, himself a boxing judge of more than 40 years experience, offered a piece of land in the village where a dilapidated horse stable could be replaced by an asset for the area.

But there were still a few local objections about perceived parking, access, noise and nuisance problems at the site, and planning consultants had to be hired to argue the case for a boxing gym on the site.

An agreement not to allow parking on the site and a promise to add full soundproofing and professional facilities – along with letters of support from dozens of parents and teenagers from Swanage, Corfe Castle and local villages – finally swayed Dorset Council.

“Boxing inspires leadership, friendship, physical fitness and self belief”

“It’s about life experience and self confidence”

Paul added:

“I’ve previously worked with Dorset schools to get boxing on their GCSE curriculum, so I’ve now talked to The Purbeck School and The Swanage School about it, and they both seem keen.

“I know I am only going to get one boxer in ten from those who join, but the gym is about so much more – it’s about life experience and building self confidence and improving mental health.

“It’s not all about being as hard as a brick in the ring, there’s discipline and life lessons. In a boxing gym it doesn’t matter what colour you are, what part of town you come from or what your ability is, it doesn’t even matter if your coordination is terrible.

“It can transform kids who have been bullied, who have no self confidence or who have been written off as no hopers, as it inspires leadership, friendship, physical fitness and self belief.”

The gym has been built in keeping with farmland and fully soundproofed

A huge rise in student stress and anxiety

The Purbeck School’s head of physical education, William Tarbard, was one of many who supported plans for the gym during the battle to win planning permission, and told Dorset Council in 2020:

“Paul Dwyer is a highly experienced boxing coach whose ethos is based around discipline, life skills and the holistic development of a young person through martial arts.

“His intention is to develop the boxing club to be a pressure free learning environment for young people to exercise maximising healthy active lifestyles as well as them being taught core life skills.

“Due to the ever increasing number of students taking part in GCSE and A-Level sport, multiple students will use boxing as one of their assessed physical activities. Paul is hugely supportive in assisting the training and assessment of these students for us.

“Unfortunately I have also witnessed the huge rise of multiple students suffering from stress, anxiety and other types of mental health.

“Nationally this is a huge issue and in recent times has become a whole school priority in finding out ways to support, manage and maximise the potential of young people through sport education.”

Purbeck Power Boxing Gym will be holding regular Tuesday evening sessions for males and females in three age groups, from 8 to 11 year-olds between 5.30 pm and 6.30 pm, 12 to 16 year-olds from 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm and for adults from 7.30 pm.

Further information

  • Purbeck Power Boxing Gym can be contacted via its Facebook page

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