Carrick-based club is fighting fit after pandemic almost shuts doors

A boxer who hung up his gloves after a competitive career in the ring is now inspiring the next generation at his club in Carrick.

Evolution Boxing Club was established by Iain Mahood in Mallusk in 2018, before reloacting to Carrick in March 2021.

The club caters for boxers aged from seven to over 18 and counts a British title holder amongst its members - current professional British Superfeatherweight Champion, Anthony Cacace.

The club’s youth (11-17) and senior (18+) sessions are every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the juniors (7-10) train on Tuesday and Thursday.

The club's members have enjoyed success in competitive bouts.

Speaking to the Times, Iain explained: “The reason I took the leap to coaching was because I believe strongly in the power of boxing as a sport. I also believe in the sport’s ability to help youngsters build their confidence and respect for others, while providing discipline and a healthy lifestyle choice to those young people who take part.

“The club continues to make those factors the cornerstones of its philosophy. For such a young club, Evolution Boxing Club has been very successful inside the ring. Part of the success lies in a good club structure , coaching and organisation.”

As with many sporting clubs across the province, the Coronavirus pandemic had a detrimental impact on Evolution’s activities, almost closing it down for good.

Iain explained: “The club is located in West Street in Carrickfergus, which was made its home in March this year after it came very close to the doors never getting opened again at one point due to Covid-19.

The club caters for boxers aged from seven.

“The club is very grateful to have been put in touch with Nigel Anderson who allowed us to relocate to one of his premises and it’s safe to say it’s the best thing that could have happened.”

Although the club has only been in existance since 2018, its members have excelled in competitive bouts.

Iain stated: “All achievements,big and small, are the greatest in their own way. It’s hard to pick just one.

“The obvious stand outs would have to be our first champion in Ronnie Mcdowell, young Sarah Cowan reaching the All-Ireland finals within seven months of starting out in the sport and then obviously the biggest one was Anthony Cacace successfully defending his British title in a career best performance against Lyon Woodstock.

“The club involve the boxers in as much as they can in ways of good management and timing for competitions. We would feature in the Co Antrim championship and the Ulster championship, progressing on to the All-Ireland finals, which are held in the National Stadium in Dublin.

“They also take part in inter-county tournaments representing Co Antrim and have also been selected to compete against America with one boxer, Jack Quinn, selected to travel to Washington and Malta.”

The east Antrim club supports boxers from across the region and numerous backrounds, with Iain keen to assist fighters throughout their careers and away from potential involvement in anti-social behaviour.

He added: “We aim to continue to provide opportunities for local youths to participate.

“Situated in the centre of surrounding areas of high social need, the club has been successful in engaging with many young people and giving them the opportunities to participate in sport and physical activity.

“The club believe that the positive attributes associated with participating in sport will help many young people stay away from crime and anti-social behaviour.”

Looking ahead to the future, he said: “We hope to have a few national champions over the next two years. On the professional side we want to help drive Anthony Cacace to fulfill his potential to reach a world title.

“The doors are always open to new members, where and when the club can take them in. At the moment the club provides a base to 115 members, split over the sessions.

“The worst thing we could do is completely turn away a kid who walks through the door because we have no space. We want to be able to take in as many as we can, because who knows who you could be turning away: the next Anthony Cacace, Carl Frampton, Ryan Burnett or Katie Taylor?”

For more information about the club, check out the Evolution Boxing Club Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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