Steve Hossack: Bell rings in changes at new-look gym

Pete Bell

Pete Bell

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The facilities at a Doncaster gym are proving to be a real knockout following a £70,000 facelift.

The former Lindholme Prison gym, now known as the Spirit of Freedom gym, has mainly been used for boxing over the years but it now plays host to a number of other sports as well.

Chairman Pete Bell heads the management committee which includes former Dons head coach Tony Miller, who helped win funding from three different bodies.

“I want it to be a real community-based facility,” said Pete, who took out a ten-year lease on the building earlier this year.

“I’m delighted that not only do we cater for boxing but the Dons, who use the weights and the various machines, also train here a couple of nights a week.

“Doncaster Knights have also been down.

“They recently did some boxing in the ring as part of a team bonding exercise.

“Among the main improvements is also a fantastic new kitchen and a central heating system.”

Bell, who this summer stood down as Dons’ fitness conditioner after more than a decade in the job, also has plans afoot for a rugby league team and regular carpet bowls.

“We are looking at trying to get a junior rugby league team up and running next year,” said Pete, of Hatfield.

“I‘ve sent a couple of people on a coaching course and we’ve already put on a couple of Saturday morning sessions on the pitch within the complex.

“We are also looking to attract funding to be able to offer carpet bowls during the winter.”

Up to 25 amateur boxing hopefuls a night are put through their paces on the pads and bags by the likes of Jimmy Harrington and Neil Barron.

Among the professional boxers using the facilities to train are former IBF world bantamweight champion Jamie McDonnell and his twin brother Gavin, who has his sights set on the British title.

Several of the club’s amateur boxers have decided to follow the two men into the paid ranks in recent months.

“They see it as a chance to make a bit of money,” said Pete, a former prison PTI.

The gym also caters for women.

“Nicola Adams created a lot of interest among women in the sport when she won a gold medal in last year’s Olympics and we run a class for females,” said Pete.

People can also use the facility, on Mills Drive, just to keep fit.