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'The sole focus of the group is to keep people out of trouble' - Sports clubs uniting a coastal community

PUBLISHED: 15:41 26 March 2019 | UPDATED: 15:48 26 March 2019

Tony Norman, 36, who runs Spartans boxing group at Legends Gym in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Joseph Norton

Tony Norman, 36, who runs Spartans boxing group at Legends Gym in Great Yarmouth. Picture: Joseph Norton

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Sports clubs play a vital role in their community - not only do they help to unite different groups of people, they provide residents with an escape from everyday life.

Tony set up Spartans boxing group to keep people off the street and to give them something to focus on. Picture: Joseph NortonTony set up Spartans boxing group to keep people off the street and to give them something to focus on. Picture: Joseph Norton

A boxing group in Great Yarmouth is leading the way in its attempt to engage members in physical activity with its sole focus of keeping people out of trouble.

Spartans, based at Legends Gym in Steam Mill Lane, has already had a significant influence on the lives of many of the town’s residents who train there.

But founder of the group, Tony Norman, is determined to continue making a difference in the community.

Having sustained a serious ear injury which prevented him from competing at the age of 12, Mr Norman ventured into the coaching side of boxing 15 years ago and has not looked back since.

Children taking part in a football tournaament at Great Yarmouth Football Club's 'Fun On The Front' event. Picture: Great Yarmouth Football ClubChildren taking part in a football tournaament at Great Yarmouth Football Club's 'Fun On The Front' event. Picture: Great Yarmouth Football Club

His gym group now offers eight sessions a week to various age groups and abilities.

“The sole focus of the group is to keep people out of trouble and to teach them important life lessons,” he said.

“Being based in the area we are, if people were not here they would most likely be up to no good.

“The gym is not just about making good boxers, it is important that we develop people as humans and teach them important life lessons.”

Julie Dicker believes the gym is responsible for the turnaround in her 16-year-old son, Alfie’s, behaviour.

She said: “Alfie was a real pain for teachers at school and he would get into trouble for silly things.

“Since he started boxing his teachers have been amazed by the improvement in his behaviour.

“The work Tony does with everyone is phenomenal and I cannot thank him enough.”

Mr Norman admitted he was proud of the transformation he had seen in some of his members.

“I will always ask them how they are getting on at school and if I know they are getting into trouble I won’t let them train,” Mr Norman said.

“They know the principles I stand by and recognise the importance of them.

“To know you are making a difference does give me quite a bit of satisfaction.”

Despite a clear focus on personal development outside of the ring, the gym is also enjoying plenty of success inside the ring.

Last month, Kai Smart, 14, became the gym’s first national champion, representing a major achievement for the teenager and Spartans.

Great Yarmouth Football Club - a hub for community sport;

Another club keen to make a difference in the community is Great Yarmouth Football Club.

Although the Bloaters first team compete in the ninth tier of English football, manager Adam Mason is well aware of the club’s importance at grassroots level.

Mr Mason said: “Sports clubs play a huge role in communities and go a long way to providing support for youngsters.

“We know the responsibilty we have within the town is quite big and that is something we embrace.

“I am really proud of the initiatives we are involved in and the evidence is there to show the tangible difference we are making.”

The club, which has youth sides from under seven to under 16’s, hopes its Wellesley Recreation Ground will become a hub for community sport in the future.

One of the projects which encaptures this vision is ‘Fun On The Front’ - a yearly event at the ground which was launched in 2016.

It involves a youth football tournament which is played alongside a number of performances from dance and martial arts groups in the town.

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