CHORLEY’s Michael Jennings is looking to inspire a future generations of champion boxers from the town.
The ex-WBU welterweight champion may have been out of the ring competitively for two years, but he believes he has what it takes to mix it with the top boxers.
As he continues to train for a shot at the top, he has set up the Jennings Community Boxing Academy at Coppull Mill, Coppull, with his brother Dave.
Their aim is providing a safe environment for youngsters to keep fit and learn about boxing, and in time produce some budding amateur boxers.
It should soon be ABA affiliated after a recent inspection by officials.
Jennings said: “This is a really exciting venture and a big challenge for us.
“I had been coaching and training a few kids for 12 months, and decided the next step would be to open a gym.
“We were originally at a gym on Friday Street, but we were told that we could not be affiliated because it was within a mile of another club, which was Chorley ABC.
“So we moved out here to Coppull and we have already got plenty of people using the gym, both young and old.
“While we want to produce good amateur boxers, the gym is open to anyone who wants to learn about the sport and stay fit.
“It’s important that kids aren’t wandering the streets with nothing to do.
“This is an opportunity for them to come into a proper facility and do something positive.
“As we go forward we’ll build up the facilities.
“At the moment we have everything we need, but in time we want to progress.
“With regards to potential, we’ve got some really good kids training with us.
“I think some of them could push on and box to a good standard.
“There are quite a few that are ready to box, and you can see they have it.
“When you tell them something they pick up on it and do it.”,
Jennings, who is nicknamed the Chorley Lurcher, enjoyed a successful boxing career.
He turned professional in 1999 and won his first title four years later – the WBU International welterweight belt.
From there he won the English and British welterweight belts.
In April 2007, Jennings was crowned WBU welterweight champion after victory over Mehrdud Takaloo at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
And he successful defended that title the following year.
In February 2009, Jennings fought Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Gardens in New York for the vacant WBO welterweight title, losing in the fifth round.
His last appearance in the ring was a defeat to Kell Brook in September 2010.
Some might say who better to learn from than Jennings.
He said: “It is brilliant to watch the kids’ progress and we are getting more and more people interested in coming here all the time.”
Jennings is back in training after a shoulder problem which has plagued his recent career.
But now is a free agent after leaving Frank Warren, and he is just waiting for guidance from his group of trainers whether he will be able reach the dizzy heights that saw him British champion.
The 35-year-old said: “I’ve just started training again after having a bad shoulder for a quite a while.
“I’m going to see how things go and if I’m okay, I would like to fight again.
“I’ve been out now for two years and I do miss it, although the coaching is enjoyable.”