As acting chairman of the British ex-Boxers Hall of Fame, Dave Harris has always felt responsible for the well-being of characters involved in the sport. Having helped the organisation grow through a combination of hard work and much-needed networking, he strives to make important issues well-known.
“I’m a chairman of the British ex-Boxers Hall of Fame, which has grown from strength to strength,” He said. “People said it wasn’t going to take off. It’s well-known now, and people are even flying into wherever [our events are] taking place. It’s in its fifth year and the tickets are all sold out.
“They sold out within weeks of it going on sale, and this year there’s about 400 people sitting down to dinner. It covers England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.” Harris told Boxing Social.
“We’ve got Bobby Allen coming over from America who’s on the Canastota Hall of Fame and they’re so impressed by what we’re doing over here. It’s not just the superstars that go into the Hall of Fame, it’s people that have given their life to boxing like Bob Edgeworth and Derrick Rose, [who worked for] sixty years as a photographer in boxing.
“There are characters like that who have given their life to boxing in both the amateur and professional ranks. That’s basically what has happened and I’ve met many people from boxing who are in a bad way.”
Harris has spent years contributing towards the growth of the ex-Boxers Hall of Fame, and started because of his own personal experiences. His recent efforts have also allowed his brainchild – Ringside Rest & Care Home – to become a reality. Once complete, the 36-bed residential care facility will aim to offer support to those from boxing’s past and present who are in desperate need of help.
“We’ve got Johnny Oliver [who] has a better knowledge of those that need this support,” He said. “I think there’s twenty four people over the last few years that have been identified as in need of rest and care.
“This home is going to be a state of the art place – a 36 bedded unit with a cinema room where they can watch old fights. There will also be a non-alcoholic bar because a lot of them have got, or had, drink problems.
“There’s so many famous names – you’d really be surprised at those who are in a bad way. I saw many of them through the Hall of Fame and thought ‘No, I’ve got to do something about this’. It should have happened fifty years ago and everyone says that.”
When asked about developing the idea and looking for support to produce the 36-bedded care home, Harris stated that it is partly thanks to one of their supporters. He told Boxing Social:
“The Royal Variety Club has been very supportive of what we’re trying to do. They’ve given us a lot of support and the know-how really. They’ve got Brinsworth house, where all the entertainers and artists go when they need support. That’s what we’re planning.”
Harris also touched on the brilliant efforts being made to build not only the name of Ringside Rest and Care Home but to also get the income to sustain it.
“Since we’ve started, we’ve put in for planning permission and we’re waiting to hear back,” He said. “We’ve got one chap doing two marathons. He’s already done the Manchester marathon dressed in all boxing gear! He’s going to be doing the Liverpool marathon next.”
“We’ve got Scott Welch – former British, European and World title challenger. He’s going to be with a team of boxers and climbing a mountain. There’s people doing extraordinary things. We’ve got boxing associations – [one from] Essex is doing a 7 mile walk and they’re in their 80s! It’s all to raise money for Ringside Rest and Care.”
“Lots of amateur clubs have been supportive and have sent money. Some of the small amateur clubs have been really generous to get this off the ground and they’ve given us all their support.” Harris said.
Harris and the rest of the organisation also reached out to the unified World heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua, and former World heavyweight champion, Frank Bruno, to help promote the future home. He told Boxing Social:
“We’ve got T-Shirts being made with the logo, pins to put on their jackets, logos to wear into the ring and already Anthony Joshua’s team are wearing it when he fights on June 1st. Frank Bruno has been brilliant, he gave a very large donation. He’s been brilliant because he knows what he’s been through, then you’ve got so many that have given and it doesn’t stop.”
The proposed home could cost a staggering £1.5 million per year to keep open, but Dave Harris and the community are producing vital work from auctions, charity workouts, marathons and more. When asked by Boxing Social about the running costs and future plans, Harris responded by saying:
“What we’re trying to do is to prove the need and we’ve got total transparency in what we’re doing. Nobody is making a penny from this, it’s about the bodies of boxing being there for the family. Then we’ve got some very big major players who are CEOs of some of the biggest trust funds in Britain. Those people are on our working party, so we will get the support when the time is right.”
All the hard work is being done until that time strikes, with donations being a crucial part of the process to reach their goal. Elaborating on the future plans of Ringside Rest and Care, Harris concluded by saying:
“It’s going to take about £5 million to build this state of the art home. What we hope for is all boxers earning large amounts will allow us to be their tax beneficiaries.
“What we want is what the entertainment industry have got. They’ve got their Brinsworth house which is a wonderful setup and we want this for our boxers so that they can be together and have support in their old age.”
Article by Chandler Waller
Follow Chandler on Twitter at: @ChandlerWaller