World champion boxer Carl Frampton backs club's hopes for future
World champion Carl Frampton is backing his old amateur club's bid to secure new, 21st century premises.
The Midland club in Tigers Bay is headed by Frampton's early mentor Billy McKee who for the past seven years has been working on gaining the funds to build on a new site but it seems he has now hit a brick wall.
While some government funding has been forthcoming, it is nowhere near the total required - around £1million - to erect a club with the facilities that Midland badly needs.
While for over 40 years the club has served the area well, McKee and his committee know a modern facility is long overdue - and they have a feasibility study in place as well as a targeted site along the Shore Road.
McKee not only wants to see young boys and girls coming to the club from Tigers Bay but also from other districts and it is a vision which excites Frampton, who wants to see the path made clear for a vibrant new facility.
"I think it would be great to have a new club and it is needed - and situated in a place where more kids will have the chance to go to the club," said Frampton.
"I was fortunate that the club was at the bottom of my street so it was very easy for me to just go along every night but there are other lads who because they have to get a bus there and back they just don't want to do that every night, that's just the way it is.
"The plan for a new site would mean that the catchment area would be much bigger and the club would have the chance of having more champions and also to get more kids off the streets at night and into boxing."
McKee had felt that he was making progress but in recent months feels the project has run into a cul de sac. Nevertheless, he is determined to push forward with the hope that Belfast City Council and DCAL will see the clear benefits of a new facility.
McKee said: "When you look at the club it is obvious that we need new premises. For a start we cannot have girls in the club because we do not have the shower and changing room facilities and overall the club is just too small.
"We want a club that not only caters for the boxers but also a facility that can do more than just train young boxers - we want a facility that operates from morning to evening for the community.
"There's huge potential for this club and huge potential for us to help the community.
"Everyone knows that sport can change lives and a facility such as the one we have in mind is a very economical way of making a major difference to the lives of a lot of young people."