A former amateur boxing champion who helped turn around young lives in London has started a new life in Huddersfield – opening a shop and basement gym in the Packhorse Centre.
Boxing coach Irfan Malik, 49, built a gym in his back garden in Hounslow to help keep young people on the right track.
In 2011 he was nominated for a community award, sponsored by Quaker Oat So Simple. His gym was given a makeover and he had a surprise visit from former world champion David Haye.
Last August dad-of-three Irfan moved to Huddersfield – his wife Nabila’s home town – and three months ago opened Gallant Boxing & Sports Shop in the Packhorse Centre.
The shop stocks quality boxing gear, clothing and equipment and he also supplies and fits home gyms for customers.
Downstairs he has a basement gym where he offers one-to-one boxing and fitness training along with sessions for men, women and children.
“We moved to Huddersfield because that’s where my wife is from and the North has a lot of potential for boxing,” said Irfan.
“I started out on Huddersfield open market and the business quickly grew. Because we moved from London I don’t know many people in Huddersfield but everyone has been very welcoming.
“I found the shop in the Packhorse Centre and the owners are very helpful and supportive. They support us with rent reductions, more shops are opening and it’s going well.”
Irfan goes for quality and says customers prefer the personal touch. “When you buy online the products might look nice in the pictures but maybe it’s not so good when it arrives,” he said.
“Then you either have to send it back or keep it and don’t bother and you’ve wasted your money. Here you can buy what you see and it’s good quality.”
Irfan started boxing in 1988 and was ABA champion in 1991-92. A wall in his gym is covered in trophies, photographs and memorabilia.
He has taken part in dinner shows with many boxing stars and has met boxing legends including Mike Tyson, Prince Naseem Hamed, Amir Khan and Tim Witherspoon.
Irfan added: “Boxing is good for your physical fitness and mental health and it’s a good for beating stress.
“It’s good for youngsters too. Lots of youngsters come here a bit overweight after playing computer games and then they start eating healthy food and eating properly. Boxing is a good sport for young people.”
To find out more search Gallant Boxing & Sports Shop on Facebook or ring Irfan on 07772 247247.