Chris and Co ensure boxing club is at heart of community

Chris McEwan at the boxing clubChris McEwen is the current chairman and one of the coaches at Pembroke and Pembroke Dock Amateur Boxing Club so he is understandably jubilant that they were named as the Parasport ‘Club of the Month’ for January 2021, for its inspirational work within the community, especially with regard to those with a disability. 

Chris is a former member  of the Royal Air Force who is himself disabled, and left because of damaged nerves in his leg, but leads a club which has already been recognised by Disability Sport Wales with the Blue Ribbon Insport award, and has developed into an inclusive Community Hub.  Held in huge esteem for many years but now developing important new areas The club has long been held in huge esteem across the UK for its success in turning out successful Welsh and British champions but has also given the chance for those from an under-privileged background the chance to shine – and Chris views boxing as a significant means of providing disadvantaged and vulnerable people with solid foundations, such as discipline and resilience, as well as offering a supportive community around them. 

It offers a variety of inclusive boxing sessions, including seated classes for disabled women, in-school interventions for vulnerable students, and training for disabled young people free of charge. 

Chris said: “Boxing and the Forces are very much alike for me because discipline is one of their core values. It’s a family. When a person comes through the door, each one of them has a different story. 


Commonly shared love of the club is so important


Tin Man TuesdaysChris joined the club over ten years ago after leaving the RAF, where he worked as a chef and enjoyed his boxing, and was soon involved in coaching alongside other talented and inspirational coaches in Andy Edmundsen, Nathan Probert, John Probert, Alana Edmundsen, Jim Dwyer, John Bates and John Edmundsen.

“We all have one thing in common- we love being involved in working with anyone who joins us and I love the togetherness, the tenacity of the sport. Once you become part of a boxing club you become part of a family. 

“It doesn’t matter if we’ve got four people or 15 people in the gym, it is still like it’s a football stadium; it’s buzzing, and you just bounce off each other. Boxing is not just about competing – it’s about the social interaction, physical exercise and stress relief, which is great for mental health.” 


Thursday is a special occasion – and Wednesdays are now inspirational too!

Encouraging disability participationThursday is a very special one at the club because from 12noon until 7pm there is free access for anyone with a disability and Chris has been working tirelessly to form a sister company to start ‘GB Disability Boxing’ with the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association (where Derek McAndrew and the whole team has been superb with its support), and the English Amateur Boxing Association, with interest and support also coming from Canada.

“We have encouraged other clubs to cater for everyone in their community and we are already delighted to set up training programmes for those in wheelchairs, or who need to work from home because of travel difficulties.

Wednesdays have also become a busy time at the club because they now have three training sessions on line for all abilities supplied by Luiz Faye, who lives in the North of England and has just become the first female wheelchair user to be accredited with an England coaching badge.

“She is inspirational,” Chris told us, “and we are so delighted that she has joined us for her brilliant weekly sessions – and there is sure to be a big take-up across the UK for her work.”

“And we have also linked with our local school, the new Henry Tudor School, to help young people with additional learning needs, as well as anyone else from the school who would like to join us – and devising training programmes for schools across Wales to utilise.


Community work undertaken in the pandemic

Food parcelsDuring the first lockdown in 2020 stopped training sessions, but Chris and Co used its venue as they turned it into a food bank to support individuals in need – and the club has also secured planning permission for a Disability Sports Café, where rough sleepers can seek refuge, learn how to bake bread and cakes, and earn some money. 

It will also serve as an honesty café and the centre for a work scheme programme for people with disabilities to gain crucial life and employment skills. 

“It’s not just a boxing club; it’s much, much more. Pembroke and Pembroke Dock Amateur Boxing Club is a very special place,” said Chris. “These are all projects which have stemmed from one thing; boxing. That’s what I love about it; that it doesn’t just stop at one thing, it continually grows.” 

And finally . . .

Angela Miles, the Disability Sport Officer for Sport Pembrokeshire, told us,
“We are delighted that the club is working towards its ‘insport’ bronze award and is an inspiration to other boxing clubs across the country.

“They look for the ability in people and not the disability, and there is such a supporting ethos there that is heart-warming to see.”

In describing Pembroke and Pembroke Dock Amateur Boxing Club, the ‘Parasport’ web site said it was:
“A knockout club at the heart of its community,” and there is no doubt that Chris McEwen and Co are working tirelessly to help others – and we can only echo theirs and Angela’s fitting words and say a huge well done to them for their efforts and the way that they are flying the Pembrokeshire Flag with such distinction!