A LOCAL boxing club is punching above its weight thanks to a generous donation from a former world title contender and his workmates.
Richie Wenton, who fought Marco Antonio Berrera for the vacant WBO super bantamweight title in Atlantic City in 1998, handed over a cheque for £700 to Inverness Boxing Club last Thursday night on behalf of fellow REEL Group employees.
Wenton, who is originally from Liverpool, also made a successful defence of the British super bantamweight title. He works as an electrician on the Transocean 714 rig at the Invergordon base.
He told the Ross-shire Journal, "I discovered a few of the guys I worked with are either ex-boxers or K1 fighters - some of them are champions in their own right. We thought it would be a good idea to raise some funds for the local boxing club. Our boss, Stuart Paterson set the ball rolling by putting £200 in the kitty and we tried to match it.
"After just 10 days we raised £700 - and that was just from the day shift. They were only too delighted to support the club - the money will help them buy the equipment they need."
Wenton (42) plans to use the facilities at the boxing club, which is based at the Cameron Youth Centre in Inverness. "I've worked all over the world but I usually get in contact with the nearest boxing club. I've been impressed with the style of training and the attitude of the kids," he said. "It's also great to see so many women training at the club - it's the way forward. I'll probably come back when they get the ring out and have a few bouts with some of the lads. I would like to pass on a few tips to the youngsters."
Sandy Bartlett (33), who retired from the ring after failing to wrest the British Masters Featherweight title from Antony Hanna in the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen at the end of 2008, said, "Everyone on our shift was up for donating money to the club - it was a magnificent effort."
Sandy, from Marybank, joined the club as a 17-year-old but is now concentrating on showing his 10-year-old son, Ben, the ropes.
Laurie Redfern, head coach at the club, added, "We have an account with EZ - a new boxing shop in Inverness. We will be able to buy equipment like headguards, pads, gloves and skipping ropes with the money. We've got a lot of young kids here, so it will come in very handy.
"It's like a conveyor belt here. We also have a few female boxers although most of the women who come here attend their own fitness class."
Laurie can boast 10 senior Scottish title holders and one Commonwealth Bronze medalist during his 15 years at the club. He revealed one of his brightest prospects at the moment is twenty-three-year-old welterweight Scott Ross from Alness - for whom he has high hopes.