A plea for local businesses to help former world champion boxer Jawaid Khaliq at his vital academy in St Ann’s has been issued. The academy is facing closure after being informed rent is to rise by more than £1,000 every month.
Jawaid ‘Too Sleek’ Khaliq has been running boxing classes at the Sycamore Center in St Ann’s for 15 years. His work has benefitted some of the most deprived communities in Nottingham and, as a result, he was awarded an MBE.
Mr Khaliq became the first British Asian boxing champion after winning the IBO welterweight title in 2001 against American Willy Wise. He racked up 23 wins, 13 by KO, before retiring to become a taxi driver when he also set up the academy.
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It was established upon his retirement in 2004, but now his boxing academy is at risk of closure because the rent is expected to rise from £368 to £1,462 a month. They have until July to find vital funds so it can remain open.
The Renewal Trust charity rents the building from Nottingham City Council and sub-lets it to the academy and Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum. However the charity says it was advised this year the funding it receives would be reduced by 24% by Nottingham City Council, meaning it has no choice but to hike the rents.
Cameron Spicer, 23, says he first attended the club in 2018 when he began studying accounting and finance at Nottingham Trent University. He had started boxing in 2016 and soon found his footing with Mr Khaliq, fighting 7 bouts for the club, winning a box cup and challenging the competitor for the East Midlands Middleweight Belt.
He told Nottinghamshire Live: “There are a lot of younger ones and you can see they have the pressures from their lives. There is the implication they could be doing worse things out there, but boxing is good for discipline.
“It is very steep and to just put it up is awful. I used to play rugby and my original club shut its doors in 2018 because they did not have the money. If it is gone, it is gone.
“It will be a lot of people in the local area affected. I would describe Jav as a strong positive mentor who has such a strong influence over these young children in shaping who they become in the future. By losing Jav’s gym, the five years of team development would be lost, the timeline of fights, tournaments, and titles that students have been working towards would be disrupted.”
Mr Spicer says he hopes a local business or group would be able to provide sponsorship to help fund the club and its matches, following the immense success of those training and fighting there. Two local women competed internationally at the at the Golden Girl Championships in Sweden recently.
The global tournament hosts some 380 female boxers from all over the world and during the event boxer Nila Rochester won silver after beating the home favorite from Sweden in the semi-finals and Gosia Kogut won a gold medal. The club has further had great success at BUCS.
“Basically they just want sponsorship to come and help. We’ve had some success with the shows but it is not enough to sustain £1,400 per month,” Mr Spicer added.
The academy receives referrals from youth services and works with Nottinghamshire Police to help transform the lives of young people who exhibit anti-social behavior patterns. Many have said it will be ‘devastating’ if the academy closes.
Councillor Neghat Khan, from Nottingham City Council, added: “We appreciate the important work that community groups such as the Jawaid Khaliq Boxing Academy carry out from local community centres, and understand the difficulties they face. However, their lease is directly with the Renewal Trust and not the council.
“As a Board Member of the Renewal Trust, we have discussed how the rising costs of utility bills are having a significant impact on community groups whose bills are included in the rent.
“Tenants need to realize that costs have gone up and try to do what they can to negotiate terms and take action themselves to bring costs down. The Renewal Trust has received significant investment in the Sycamore Center from the council for many years in comparison to other community venues which have received no grant funding.
“Their grant has been reduced by 24 percent this year due to the council’s own grant funding from Government reducing by £101m since 2013/14. However, we believe that even the reduced grant is sufficient for them to run the Sycamore Centre.”
The academy is now looking for sponsors to help keep the facility running. Anyone who can help is being asked to contact email@example.com