ON the walls of Furness Catholic Amateur Boxing Club are posters and pictures of some of the biggest names in boxing from the past and present.

The likes of Amir Khan, Roberto Duran, Manny Pacquiao and – naturally – Muhammad Ali look down on the young men and women who train out of the small but tidy gym on Dalkeith Street, all with their own hopes and dreams inside the ring.

It is the same for thousands of people in towns and cities up and down the country, although each boxing club has its own unique story to tell.

Furness Catholic’s story begins in 1957, founded by the late Pat Ryan and having spells based at St Aloysius School and the Travellers Rest before relocating to its current town centre base around 10 years ago.

Named ‘Pat’s Gym’ after its founder, who was honoured with the Freedom of Barrow Borough and a lifetime achievement award from the Amateur Boxing Association for his dedication to the sweet science, the club welcomes seniors and juniors to train three nights a week – all for free as well.

These days, Pat’s sons Mick and Gary oversee the current generation of boxers, having done so with brother Kevin prior to his death in 2016 too.

Pat’s grandson Paul is the third generation of the family to join ‘Team Ryan’ in tutoring anyone who is eager to learn about boxing and step into the ring, with the sport very much established as part of family life.

“We’ve just been brought up with boxing, from being at school to the Travellers and to here,” said Gary. “At least my dad saw this place before he died.

“We were up and down the country all the time as kids, and we’ve just carried on.

“If we didn’t enjoy it, we wouldn’t be here three nights a week, or going away on a Friday or Saturday night. You’ve got to enjoy and once you get into it, it’s good.”

The minimum age for starting boxing is 10, when youngsters can have non-scoring skills bouts under Boxing England rules.

However, the club have been doing outreach work with Ormsgill School recently, introducing pupils to boxing in weekly hour-long after-school sessions for anyone interested.

Last week saw them holding a class in the hall at the same time as choir practise was going on – or, as Mick put it: “They were singing and we were punching.”

Around 25 juniors and 20 seniors regularly attend the midweek sessions at Pat’s Gym, with several of those preparing to return to action in the coming weeks following the break over Christmas and New Year.

Among those are senior Jamie Reynolds, who made his debut on the recent show in Grange-over-Sands, and 11-year-old Evie Wharton, who is one of a growing number of girls joining.

It is the same for thousands who have been through Furness Catholic down the years and Gary is in no doubt as to the benefits of boxing.

“The fitness side of this superb,” said Gary. “It’s about discipline as well; you see the ones who talk and you just glance over – you don’t have to say anything and they know.

“They grow out of it though and the respect is superb as well.

“And you see the girls, they are superb. Some of them really want it and it’s the same with the lads as well.”

It is not all positive for the club at the moment, as they are trying to raise enough money to buy their home after it was put up for sale.

The boxing community and the town have rallied around the club though, with word spreading thanks to their plight being featured in trade publication Boxing News

To donate to Furness Catholic’s fundraising appeal to buy their base, visit https://www.gofundme.com/furness-catholic-boxing-club-secure-our-future.