An old-school boxing gym in Benalla’s converted railway goods shed is introducing the sport to dozens of local children and teenagers.
LG Boxing gym, founded by retired boxer and principal trainer Len Griffiths, has made its home in the goods shed for close to a decade.
Benalla Rural City Council took over management of the leased building under VicTrack’s Community Lease program to allow the group to continue their great work onsite.
There are over 400 community leases in VicTrack’s portfolio. The program makes underused land and buildings available to community organisations for social and cultural activities.
After retiring from competitive boxing in 1964, Len stepped straight into training other boxers.
“I was training at the Policy and Citizens Youth Club here in Benalla until it closed down. I had my own place for a while. I had pulled out of training and then a fellow asked me if I would start up again in the goods shed here. And we’ve been here ever since.”
The gym welcomes anyone who would like to give boxing a try. It’s not all about fighting either; many come along for fun, and the fitness benefits the sport can bring.
Benalla’s football teams have used the gym as part of their training regimes.
If this shed hadn't been here... I wouldn’t have ended up getting as far as I have.
The gym’s boxing programs are very popular. Typically, a steady stream of around 20 kids can be found training. On a busy night as many as 100 kids attend.
Among the regulars is champion amateur boxer Tom Newton, who won silver in the welter weight division of the Australian Boxing Championships.
Tom starting boxing here around seven years ago, initially to boost his fitness, and progressed to competing in amateur bouts.
Tom said the old-school style of the gym is often admired by visiting coaches.
“We’re super lucky with this shed,” he said.
“Other coaches who visit us are almost taken back to when they were fighters because this kind of set-up was the done thing. They always say, ‘Oh my God, I used to train in a shed just like this.’”
The importance of having a facility like this in the town is not lost on Tom.
“If this shed hadn't been here, with this man (Len) in particular, I wouldn't have ended up at the Nationals fighting for that title. I wouldn’t have ended up getting as far as I have.”