Former boxer Joe Kilshaw reveals the details on how his love of boxing – mixed with his teen troubles has inspired him to co-own a well-established gym in Preston.
The 53-year-old runs the famous Larches and Savick Amateur Boxing Club, alongside Dave Fitzgerald and Jimmy Moon.
Kilshaw has been involved with the gym, which is situated on Catforth Road, since 2002.
The former amateur fighter admitted the place has had a positive effect on the local neighbourhood.
“I do not want to see any kids doing anything bad,” he said.
“We designed the gym to keep kids off the streets and now residents, who used to be scared of this area, are a lot more content.”
Kilshaw insisted his mother-in-law played a key role in kick-starting his involvement with the club.
After a long stand-off with the council, the gym was granted a £350,000 facelift to revamp what is now a state-of-the-art facility.
The venue wasn’t always associated with boxing, according to Kilshaw.
“Originally this place where we are situated now was the Phoenix Youth Club and scouts hut. It all started when Larches and Savick Community Association held a meeting,” he remembered.
“My mother-in-law was at this meeting and put her hand up and told them that ‘My son-in-law is an ex-boxer – he might be able to help.
“The area felt starved off things to do for the youth, who were constantly getting into trouble with the police. I’ve been in a spot of bother myself so I felt like I could relate to these kids.”
Kilshaw represented England schoolboys and has competed at the National ABA junior finals.
Taking up the sport back in 1974, Kilshaw described how he was inspired by the late Mohammed Ali.
“I was actually the first fighter from Preston in 20 years to be fighting in the finals,” he said.
“I had a collage of Ali memorabilia because I wanted to emulate him.”
Sporting a black Lonsdale hoodie, Kilshaw proudly mentions the upcoming and famous boxers who have graced his facility, including the likes of Lisa Whiteside, who later won the silver medal at the 2014 World Championship in South Korea.
To see her come through the ranks of his gym and tackle the stigma surrounding women in grassroots boxing was a really proud moment, according to Kilshaw.
“Lisa came to my gym without any boxing experience and I nurtured her into a champion,” he said.
“Women are not as likely to take up boxing compared with men and it was a challenge she faced right from the start.”
Preston’s very own Scott Fitzgerald, who became a gold medallist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, also trains at the gym. The 25-year-old recently extended his professional record to six wins out of six following a fourth-round stoppage of Russian opponent Andrej Cepur at the Guild Hall.
Middleweight boxer Mick Hall is another high-profile athlete, who visits and trains regularly at the Larches gym.