Kaizen Karate Club and Ashington Miners Amateur Boxing Club team up to open joint gym and dojo
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Ashington Miners Amateur Boxing Club and Kaizen Karate Club have teamed up to fit out a new shared training facility on Woodhorn Road, which opened earlier this summer.
Wayne Kennedy, who runs the boxing club in his spare time, said: “It is not about creating champions. If champions come it is brilliant, but it is more for helping the local community out like my coaches in the past did.”
Wayne says boxing gyms such as his can get through to children in ways schools and parents cannot, and that their work can help reduce crime rates, particularly knife crime.
This is on top of the physical and mental health benefits associated with sports.
The club has evolved since it was founded by Wayne in Cambois, where it produced a number of national champions.
Moving the club to a more accessible location is helping keep children engaged with the sport, as they are more able to make their own way to training and are less reliant on getting a lift.
Wayne, who started boxing when he was 10, said: “We needed to change the location and this came up in Ashington.
“With Ashington being such a deprived area, it is on its knees at the minute, we can do some good work in the community with boxing.”
The club offers classes for experienced boxers as well as beginners, and Wayne is encouraging people to come along and give the sport a go.
He said: “All these experienced boxers have actually walked into a gym for the first time in their life, so do not be embarrassed.
“Just get on with what you are doing because other people are not watching. Just give it a go.”
For Kaizen Karate Club founder Keith Burns, his partnership with Wayne to open the gym and dojo has been key for helping more children access karate.
Keith said: “It is amazing how quickly it actually came together. I think we are both on the same track for helping the area.
“It is just a way of trying to get kids motivated and active again, because if you are not into mainstream football, cricket, rugby, then you are dropped by the wayside, and I think these sorts of sports appeal to others.”
He added: “It is a good way of keeping fit, especially for kids.
“There are kids from Killingworth meeting up with kids from Ashington, meeting up with kids from Gateshead.
“They build new friendships. They go away competing around the country together. So it is really good for friendships as well.”
The sixth dan black belt has been teaching Shotokan karate for over 40 years, and was inspired to set up his own dojo after travelling to Japan to train in private dojos back in 2019.
He says having the club, which is named after the Japanese word for ‘continuous improvement’, is a “dream come true.”