With a pre Second World War origin, The Pat Benson Boxing Academy recorded it’s first National Champion in 1931, a year after the formation of the club under the name The Irish Forrester’s. A famous belt adorns the wall of the modern new premises detailing National Champions from 1931 to Matthew Macklin in 2000, a poignant reminder of the long and rich history which was being carved out decades before our current national champions were even born.

The club still holds a strong Irish feel, the green and white colours quite evident everywhere the club is represented. However in keeping with tradition, the club has always nurtured talent from the black and minority ethnic communities, mirroring and celebrating Birmingham’s ever more diverse cultural make up.

Notable Successes


M.Evans National Champion 8st (stones)


W.Froggatt National Champion 8st


W.Webb National Champion 8st 6lbs


D.Hathaway National Champion


W.Finnigan National Champion 8st 7lbs


Possibly the club’s most successful year; in the National ABA Championships, Paul and Mark Ramsey won Senior ABA titles in a squad that included a staggering 4 finalists and 7 semi finalists. Both men boxed for England many times and Paul Ramsey competed against the likes of Andreas Kotelnik, Kostya Tszyu and Ricky Hatton during his Small Heath days.


M.Ramsey Light Middle ABA Champion


P.Ramsey Light Weight ABA Champion


another England member, Rowan Williams boxed at the Barcelona Games as a Small Heath member. He reached the quarter final stage.


Matthew Macklin wins Senior ABA title at the age of 18.


Frankie Gavin, future world amateur champion, wins National Schoolboy Title for Small Heath.

For many years now, the club has since been known as Small Heath Boxing Club and Irish born Barney Burns was one of the most talented exports of the Emerald Isle. Winning 3 National titles for Small Heath, he boxed for Europe against America in the 60s, an incredible achievement which sets the mark for future young boxers aiming to leave their mark on Birmingham’s fight culture.

Pat Benson took the reigns of the establishment in 1971, along with Irishman John Kelly, after previous owner Steve Hayden passed away. The club was therefore saved from certain closure. Pat would go onto produce champions at every level.

The roll of honour is much longer, however, with Shaun Cogan, Mark Sperin, Mick Harkin and Dean Redmond winning National Irish Championships, in addition to John McBean and Dean Ward winning National Junior Titles, Marjhit Singh winning a National schools Title and Paddy Benson winning a British Universities Title.

Before a fire gutted the Fazeley Street gym 7 years ago, small Heath had a number of Midland Champions and 5 England boxers: Danny Lawler, Thomas Costello, Marjhit Singh, Matthew Macklin and Frankie Gavin.

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