When your gym is named after one of the greatest warriors the world has ever seen, there is certainly some weight of expectation, and a Dewsbury establishment is doing its part to live up to that reputation.
Dewsbury’s KBW fitness and combat is aptly named after the Arabian warrior, Khalid Bin Walid, famed for being a master tactician and never losing a battle. The Yorkshire club boasts an array of boxers who most recently stole the show at their amateur boxing night, at Dewsbury Town Hall, and, although they did not record a 100 per cent record, they came very close.
Out of the ten representatives competing, eight picked up wins in front of a packed out venue, with more than 600 fans in attendance.
For co-owner of KBW, Shammy Cheema, who runs the gym with his brother and MMA fighter, Jonaid, it was just further evidence of the fantastic progress the club is making.
“It was our third show and it completely sold out which was absolutely fantastic for us, 100 people were even refused entry because we were full,” he said.
“Eight of our boxers picked up wins and for some of them it was their first ever contest. When they started training they couldn’t even throw a punch but because of their hard work, and the effort put in by Martin Bateson (trainer), they were pulling off impressive combinations.
“To see such an improvement in the boxers really makes it all worthwhile.”
The gym set up three years ago after the brothers’ passion for combat sports and interest in boxing began to peak during their childhood. It was the time when some of the biggest names to ever compete in the field were in their prime and could draw in more publicity than ever.
“I grew up watching Muhammad Ali, idolising him, watching every fight and interview, and trying to learn his brash, cocky, confident personality,” Shammy added.
“Then, whilst I was going through school it was the Tyson era, who everybody loved because he could knock any guy out.
“It was only a few years ago though that I actually thought about setting up KBW. We used to train in a normal gym but got the idea to open up this place for people to come down and train on evenings and weekends.
“It soon grew into a thriving club, with fantastic support from the local community, and we now even have our own lady’s section.”
KBW is officially affiliated to the Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABA) and has tens of amateur competitors in boxing and MMA.
Boxers from the age of 11 to 34 currently train in the gym every week, whilst a junior team packed with around 30 seven and eight-year-olds, take part in weekly sessions.
The youth are ‘the future’ of the sport as acknowledge by Shammy, yet it is the current crop of competitors who he would most like to see become the gym’s first professional success.
“In our first season of affiliation to ABA we had a senior national finalist in Ashley Vanzie and had Qais Ashfaq previously on our books, who is now on Team GB,” he said.
“It is every gym owner’s dream to see one of their fighters turn professional and with the fantastic setup we have, and our amazing Martin (Bateson), I think it is only a matter of time until we see somebody turn professional.”