FORGING CHAMPIONS SINCE 1964

History

ST THOMAS' PART 1:
THE MAN FROM IRELAND

 

For over 40 years the Ingle Gym has been training boxers, ever since Brendan Ingle MBE first moved to Sheffield from the Emerald Isle looking for work in the late 1950s.

 

A haven for disruptive youths, who find solace from steel red girders with punchbags hanging, with the melodic rhythm of fists connecting with leather.

 

All concentrating, focussed and disciplined, while listening with the utmost respect and compassion for the Irishman that saved them from themselves.

 

Over the past few decades the gym has proudly produced World champions, European champions, Commonwealth champions, British champions and English champions.

 

Instantly recognisable and synonymous with the gym are the names of: Prince Naseem Hamed, Johnny Nelson, Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham, Ryan Rhodes, Junior Witter and recent prodigies in the form of Kell Brook, Abdul Barry Awad (Kid Galahad) and Richard Towers.

All trained and produced in the humble surroundings of a converted church hall, known as the St Thomas' Boys & Girls Club or more commonly named Ingle Gym.

 

Hard to believe that such an institution and creator of household names all began with a Saturday dance for “wild” youths.

Dublin-born Brendan Ingle MBE hailed from a large family of 10 brothers and four sisters.

 

All of his brothers boxed and a young Brendan decided to follow them, taking up the sport with the help of a friend of his fathers.

Eventually, Brendan came to Sheffield from Dublin in the late 1950's, 18-years-old and in search of work.

 

In 1964, living in Wincobank, Brendan, a committed Christian, was approached by the local vicar to carry out some community work, as the local youths were running "wild."

 

Brendan organised a weekly dance at St Thomas’ church hall and inadvertently set the foundations for what would become St Thomas' Boys & Girls Club, the Ingle Gym.

 

Initially, each Saturday when the dance would finish, the youths would start fighting outside the church hall on Newman Road.

So, at the end of the dance, if they started fighting, Brendan told them to go back inside and do it properly.

The same year he started the gym, converting the church hall.

 

A former Irish amateur champion, Brendan also used the church hall to train. He boxed as a middleweight in his mid 20’s, with his first professional contest coming in 1965.

 

By the time he retired his record stood at: 19 wins (KO 6), 14 defeats (KO 8). At his peak Brendan was ranked the number eight fighter in the UK.

 

Despite the gym’s Christian origin, everyone is and was welcome, whatever creed, culture or religion.

The gym is one of the first establishments to embody and practice both community spirit and multiculturalism in complete harmony to this day.

 

Nobody judged for their past, just an Irishman teaching whoever was and is willing to come along, show an interest in learning and adopt the right attitude.

 

It is from then, to this day, that from 6.45 until 8.00 in the evening, seven days a week, Brendan can be found teaching boxing and life lessons in the former church hall.

 

The only time of the year where the door is locked is Christmas morning and even then, if there is somebody wanting to train, Brendan has been persuaded to open the gym.


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LOCATION St.Thomas, Newman Road, Wincobank, Sheffield, S9 1LP