Belfast Telegraph

Holy Family on move to state of the art complex

By David Kelly

For 70 years the Holy Family club has been churning out champions from the North Street Community Centre and now it can be revealed that a new, bigger venue will host the champions of tomorrow.

Gerry Storey, 76, has been at the forefront of the club’s success for many years and he along with the Holy Family committee have put in place plans for a move to Henry Place as part of the Ashton Community Trust which will allow the gym to host two gyms and have the all-round facilities of a 21st century sporting complex.

The green light for the move is music to the ears of Storey whose gym has always been noted for its cross-community appeal and he is adamant that will not change.

The club is able to boast 112 Irish senior champions, countless Ulster champions and seven Olympians, one of whom Paddy Barnes, was back in the gym yesterday pondering his build-up to 2012, having secured his place last week in Turkey.

It is the Oympians of the future that Storey is equally concerned about and not just those who reach such a level but theose for whom boxing is a way of keeping their lives on the straight and narrow.

“The hurtful thing at the moment is that we are having to turn kids away. We have so many who want to join and I have parents coming to me and saying, ‘look we want our lad to join,’ and we have to say they can’t because we can’t fit them in,” said Storey, who has trained the likes of Barry McGuigan, Hugh Russell, Gerry Hamill and Carl Frampton.

“It’s very exciting for us to be making this move now. We are very proud of the fact that as a club we have never been closed, we have been going since 1942. Other clubs have closed down, reformed but all through the years and the Troubles we have kept going and there was an unwritten rule with the paramilitaries that we were never touched.

“There’s a great demand and now with this facility we can give all the kids the chance to learn. People say we can teach kids to box but we learn kids, including girls now to defend themselves. The way society has gone kids need to be able to defend themselves.”

The new facilities will not only allow more kids to learn the Noble Art but also enable the club to attract more inter-club events as well as international teams to train there.

It seems fitting that the plans should be in place in Olympic year and Storey is hoping that 25-year-old Barnes will have a gold medal to show off when the new venue is completed in 2013.

“I believe Paddy can go and get gold in London. It’s all about him boxing to his best and those around him making sure he has the right tactics,” he said.

Storey’s passion for the sport hasn’t diminished in the least and he continues to work at the gym, twice a day, five days a week, while his weekends in recent years have been consumed by sojourns to Drimnagh to work with the Irish ‘A’ team and to Dundalk to train with the top women boxers.

This has come on the back of helping to set up the highly successful High Performance Unit.

“We knew that our guys needed to change. I saw the Cuban kids, working from 9 to 1 in school and then 1 to 5 they were doing their boxing.

“And I knew that we needed to work on our endurance, the strength and conditioning because every time we went to international events we had all the skills and the typical performance would be our guy skating home in the first round and then gradually they would tire and the Cubans or the Poles or the old Soviet Union boxers would take over.

“The High Performance is great but then there are the other guys who maybe lost in the All-Irelands first series or the final or quarter-finals, instead of them being left without competition we bring them to Drimnagh and they work to get up there and challenge the champions.”

The most notable graduate from the ‘A’ team has been Adam Nolan who last week in Turkey joined Beijing bronze medallist Barnes in London.

Now he is hoping they can go and make history at London 2012.

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