Final bell for club

ONE of the West Country’s oldest sporting institutions is closing after 56 years.

The Bristol Sporting Club has raised considerable sums of money to support amateur boxing throughout the region by holding black tie dinner shows at various venues in Bristol.

These featured boxing matches with teams representing the Western Counties ABA taking on representative teams from around the country, including UK Armed Forces teams.

Many famous international sports stars have attended as guests including Bobby Charlton, Jim Laker, Pat Eddery, Robin Cousins, Jeremy Guscott and Gareth Edwards.

The club, which was formed in 1967 by a group of Bristol businessmen, is a registered charity and was the first in the country to be established specifically to support amateur boxing.

Chairman David Rayfield said the rising cost of organising shows and the economic climate since the pandemic had led to the committee taking the difficult decision to close.

He said: “Over the years we have relied heavily on the support of local businesses to support our shows but it has become increasingly difficult to attract new members.

“We appreciate that times have changed for many businesses and the cost of entertaining clients and sponsoring boxing has become harder to justify in the modern era.

The club has donated its remaining funds to the Western Counties ABA to be used to support local clubs throughout the region.

Club president and founder member John Thornell, 89, of Emersons Green, presented a cheque for £10,000 to Western Counties representative Dennis Stinchcombe MBE.

In future it is hoped that an annual show can be arranged to raise funds for the Western Counties under the Bristol Sporting Club banner to keep the name alive.

Craig Turner