CHAIRMAN and coach Chris McEwen has spoken of his pride at Pembroke and Pembroke Dock Amateur Boxing Club being named as the Parasport Club of the Month for January, for its inspirational work within the community.

Chris, a former member of the Royal Air Force who is himself disabled, presides over a club which has already been recognised by Disability Sport Wales with the Blue Ribbon Insport award, and has developed into an inclusive Community Hub.

The club views boxing as a significant means of providing disadvantaged and vulnerable people with solid foundations, such as discipline and resilience, as well as offering a supportive community around them.

It offers a variety of inclusive boxing sessions, including seated classes for disabled women, in-school interventions for vulnerable students, and training for disabled young people free of charge.

Chris said: “Boxing and the Forces are very much alike for me, discipline is one of their core values. It’s a family. When that person comes through the door, each one of them has a different story.

“I love the togetherness, the tenacity of the sport. Once you become part of a boxing club you become part of a family.

“It doesn’t matter if I’ve got four people or 15 people in the gym, it is still like it’s a football stadium, it’s buzzing, and you just bounce off each other. Boxing is not just about competing – it’s about the social interaction, physical exercise and stress relief, which is great for mental health.”

During the first lockdown in 2020, its venue was turned into a food bank to support individuals in need – and the club has also secured planning permission for a Disability Sports Café, where rough sleepers can seek refuge, learn how to bake bread and cakes and earn some money.

It will also serve as an honesty café and the centre for a work scheme programme for people with disabilities to gain crucial life and employment skills.

“It’s not just a boxing club, it’s much, much more. Pembroke Boxing Club is a very special place,” said Chris. “These are all projects which have stemmed from one thing, boxing. That’s what I love about it, it doesn’t just stop at one thing, it continually grows.”

Chris says that he wants to see an environment for disability boxing to grow within the existing national governing bodies, where it is regulated and safe for people with adaptive needs.

He has been working tirelessly alongside England Boxing, Welsh Boxing and Disability Sport Wales to take disability boxing to the next level, and allow adaptive boxers not only within the club, but worldwide to step into the ring with confidence.

The club sets the highest of standards, and is currently working with a number of companies and individuals, including former Canadian professional boxer Leo Sammarelli and wheelchair adaptive boxer Luiz Faye to create the first ever regulated boxing wheelchair.

Chris said: “Anybody can do the training, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before we can say ‘yes it’s safe for you to compete’. I’m aiming to get to a place where we can get disability boxing approved under amateur regulations, so that it can be regulated.

“Invictus have said if we can get this recognised underneath a national governing body then they would consider us entering the Invictus Games. And if one day it reaches the Paralympics, amazing. If I can be a part of that journey, it will be incredible.”