THE owner of a boxing club described as a “safe haven” for Girlington’s teenagers has called on the Government for clarity.

In normal times, Lights Out Boxing Gym would be filled with conversation and the sound of young people throwing punches in the ring. Now, it is desolate and empty.

Inzar Iqbal, a professional and amateur boxing coach at Lights Out Boxing Gym, says he has heard “nothing” from ministers about when boxers will be able to kickstart their training again while rumblings in the boxing community suggest June or July.

He says England Boxing is currently encouraging boxers to keep fit in the park and exercise in groups of six.

But, as a space that protects young people from crime, Inzar is becoming increasingly fearful about the impact closures might have on those striving for a bright future in sport.

With over 70 members, it has played a vital role in uniting the community, even inspiring rival gangs to quit crime and start making conversation.

The boxing coach told the Telegraph & Argus: “Everybody’s really frustrated. It’s been a safe haven for them.

“It’s like a second home for them. I’m trying to be as inspirational as possible.

“Girlington is a bit of a run down area. There’s not a lot in Girlington for them to do. Being the only boxing gym there, there are not youth centres or sport leisure centres nearby, it’s a very difficult time for them.

“There’s really nothing going on for these youngsters.

“In 2017, when I opened the gym, I had a few youngsters in gangs and they had a bit of rivalry between them. But boxing, because it’s an art, it’s a discipline, I was able to get them under one banner.

“In Girlington, we have a big drug problem and a lot of gang violence. It’s a huge problem. It’s been a big problem for a number of years. Being there, it’s been able to get them off the streets.

“We have kids that have left gangs, box for us and have gone on to become Yorkshire Champions.”

In a bid to keep inspiring young people, the coach has been making phone calls and setting fitness goals virtually.

15-year-old Uzayr Khan, an amateur boxer at the club, said his fellow young boxers had been 'upset' by the closure.

"With the news of the closure of our gym, many of us aspiring young boxers have been upset as the boxing gym played a large part in keeping us occupied during our busy school and social lives," Uzayr said.

"As the gym has shut many of us have resorted to home circuits to keep fit and ready to fight once gyms reopen as coach Inzy has taught us the importance of constantly keeping fit to look after not only our physical wellbeing but also our mental wellbeing. 

"The lockdown has given us an opportunity to study the art of boxing through watching different boxers and their style of boxing to be able to adapt these and use them when sparring and representing the gym in amateur bouts.

"Many of us eagerly await the reopening of the gym so that we can get back to training and resore order to our social lives."

The coaches at Lights Out are set to meet in the coming days to discuss exactly how the gym could operate with social distancing if restrictions are set to remain in place for the remainder of the year.

However Inzar feels more guidance on what gyms can expect is needed and whether boxers will get the chance to fight in the ring this year.

He wants to know the difference between more enclosed shops opening in June and the gyms.

He said: “The Government just need to be a little bit more clear as to who can open.

“Not everyone wants to train in the park. It’s a case of us sitting down and thinking up something.”