Bethlehem Boxing Club, in Richmond Hill, opened 13 years ago with a vision; owner Lee Murtagh longed for the boxing club to be more.
And an expansion to include a weights room and an outdoor play area has brought this vision to life.
For more than a decade, the boxing club has encouraged people of all ages, genders and nationalities to get involved with the sport. Lee took up the sport himself at the age of seven and went on to become a professional boxer until he retired at the age of 40.
Lee then wanted to share his love for the sport and opened his own club, above the St Saviour Church.
Lee said: “This is a real melting pot of an area. East Leeds is great – we have different cultures and everything. I've got flags from all over the world up, and if there’s not one, I’ve got to get one.”
And at present, the club has people from the age of 4 to 50 involved in the club – and the expansion hopes to push more people through the doors.
The expansion includes a new weight room, transformed from a former empty room in the church, and a new outdoor gym and playground which has climbing frames and monkey bars, a tire, baseball bat, sledgehammers, ropes and more.
Lee is fond of Richmond Hill – it’s where he spent some of his childhood – and he has no intention of moving.
But is hoping to inspire change. Partnering up with the police, he hopes to encourage more young people who are at risk of being involved in knife-crimes to get involved with sport and find community.
Lee said: “I love where I am, I love the area, I know it has got a really bad rap now. Leeds has now a really, really bad rap or knife crime.”
He added: “It’s a place where great things happen. We're not talking about world champions. You see young kids progressively getting better and building confidence and maybe not go down that path [of crime].
“That path, I have always said to the kids that it only leads to two things – death and jail. That’s it. There's no way around it.”