Reece still hands on after 50 years

Chorley Amatuer Boxing Club's Reece Bretherton
Chorley Amatuer Boxing Club's Reece Bretherton

Reece Bretherton has certainly gone the distance after dedicating more than 50 years to Chorley Amateur Boxing Club.

The well-loved coach has certainly been a big hit with everyone involved at the club as he spends four or five nights a week training youngsters.

The 70-year-old boxed until poor eyesight put pay to any career.

He said: “Originally I used to love boxing, but when I was sparring and I had no glasses on, I was seeing double.

“So instead of fighting

on, I thought I would coach people instead so I could stay involved.”

Coaching at the amateur club has always been a part of Reece’s life, but the Chorley man has also had spells coaching with Great Britain.

He has coached top boxers like Amir Khan and Ricky Hatton while on GB duty, and closer to home he has coached Michael Jennings and Carl Crook.

Reece said: “I always knew Ricky would make it – at 12, he wasn’t only beating people, he was hurting people.

“Michael was always a good boxer too and has done excellent in his career.”

Reece’s international coaching duties have seen him travel to Russia twice, South Africa, Canada, America and Denmark.

After spending more than 20 years as an England schools’ coach, he was appointed team manager and head coach of the English team in 2000.

He said: “That was a proud moment, being appointed both manager and head coach.

“But at the same time, it was a lot easier having the two roles combined.”

Recently retired from a position on the board of visitors at Garth Prison, Reece thinks one of his current crop of youngsters really stands out.

He said: “Mark Jeffers is the current star without a doubt. He’s already boxed for England and has two national titles, and one thing he can do is really punch .”

One thing Reece believes in strongly at the Chorley club is he refuses to hold any one-on-one sessions.

He added: “I don’t believe in that kind of coaching.

“People offer me money to do it, but it’s not fair.

“If people want to come down, I get everybody in so everyone can learn.”

The club is now in summer training and will only start the really intense stuff two weeks before the new season starts in September.

Chorley ABC is regularly complimented on the prices they charge on a weekly basis – £5 for youngsters and £6 for senior members.

The club has been at its Lyons Lane site since 1961 and Reece has seen its development from the very start.

He said: “I remember the times when we had to shovel snow out of the door so we could get in and train.

“We used to do runs in the snow and whoever made it back first used to have the cold water ready to pour over the others!

“I will never retire, I always look after myself so I can keep up with the lads in the ring.”

The club currently has 20 members on board with nine having registered medical cards.

He added: “The kids are great. They never forget we are a team with a good system but most importantly dedication.”

Away from boxing, Reece is a big charity man and spends five days a week helping out at St Gregory’s Church.

He attends the 8.30am mass and then lends a helping hand with all the groundwork.