DAVID PYE'S COLUMN: Bolton is boxing clever as new Fury gym shows the town's ringmaster status
IT was great to see Bolton boosted by another fantastic sporting facility with the opening of the new Team Fury gym on Halliwell Road this week.
In my role as boxing reporter for The Bolton News, I was at the opening of the Platinum Community Centre which is on the site of the former Robin Hood pub.
And it is certainly a credit to all those involved from trainer Peter Fury to Team Fury advisor Asif Vali and all the local businesses that have supported the project.
Bolton has a rich boxing tradition and having another high-profile star like Tyson Fury set up a base in the town can only add to that.
But it’s not just about big names like Fury or Amir Khan – gyms like Platinum and Gloves are huge community assets helping get kids off the streets and into sport.
Let’s not forget, either, that they are not alone in this boxing town. There are several clubs all doing great work and investing in youth such as the Halliwell ABC/Elite gym, Bolton Lads club, Castle Hill, New Bury and Farnworth, Blackrod ... the list goes on.
The unsung work of coaches at all of those gyms cannot be underestimated, particularly in areas that are less well-off than most.
When I was in my teens in the 1980s, there was little in the way of after-school groups or youth clubs available. There were football teams you could get involved with but that also involved commitment from the parents – mum and dad’s taxi had to be on hand for the trip to training on those dark winter nights.
There were boxing clubs around, but not as many as there are now and the facilities were not a patch on what we see on offer these days.
Of course, boxing will always be a sport that divides opinion. Some will argue it is brutal; others that it instils discipline.
There will be parents who would prefer for their children not to be stepping into the boxing ring.
Fury, however, is firmly in the camp of the latter argument, telling me this week that it gave him a path with purpose as a youngster and taught him manners and respect.
The options are now there on a more widespread basis for Bolton’s youngsters to tread that same path and that has to be a positive thing.
Youngsters receive so much bad press but we should be investing in their futures, particularly through sport, and building new facilities, not shutting them down.
Football seems to have realised the error of its neglectful ways on a national basis with FA chairman Greg Dyke’s new plan to change all that going forward.
Boxing has had it right from the start for me – kids have always had that avenue open to them whether just for fitness or to pursue a future career in the ring.
And in Bolton, that just continues to go from strength to strength.