In 1930, a new boxing club called the Irish Foresters was just starting out in Birmingham. Little did its members know that they were laying the foundations of one of the most successful clubs in the history of English boxing, going on to become Small Heath Boxing Club and now known as the Pat Benson Boxing Academy. The club recorded its first champion within a year of inauguration and we are one of very few boxing clubs in Britain to have had a winner in every domestic championship since then.
When Small Heath ABC owner Steve Hayden passed away in 1971, coach Pat Benson took the reins along with business partner John Kelly, saving the club from certain closure. Throughout the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 00s, Pat would go onto produce champions at every level.
In 1987, possibly our most successful year, Small Heath Boxing Club saw Paul and Mark Ramsey win Senior ABA titles in the National ABA Championships, in a squad that included a staggering four finalists and seven 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.
In 2004, the club’s Fazeley Street premises were gutted by fire. The club lost everything and was forced to close. However, with the help of friends, family, and support from local businesses, Pat took on new premises in Adderley Street. Over the following decade, he built the club back up and in 2010 he won the BBC WM “Unsung Hero" award for his work.
In 2011 Small Heath Boxing Club became The Pat Benson Boxing Academy, in honour of its most famous coach. Pat may have stepped back from the day-to-day running of the club, but his grandson Paddy Benson continues to build on its strong history of social value and community cohesion. Not only does the club continue to attract the country’s brightest boxing talents to its state-of-the-art facilities, it’s now a hugely valuable community sports foundation with an even brighter future ahead.