86-year-old Keith Jefferies has been in boxing all his life. He won his first Welsh title in 1949. Four times a week he opens up his gym in Northville and coaches over 20 boxers.
Cwmbran Life interviewed Keith a few years ago in Cwmbran Boxing Club. Last week I made another visit to watch him at work. His gym is spotless. The walls are covered in Welsh vests and photos of boxers who have been under his tuition.
The young fighters arrive for 5.30pm and spend the first 15-20 minutes skipping. If you can’t skip, you spend the time learning how to skip. This is all done quietly as the youngers know that Keith runs his club on discipline. There is no messing about. During the sparring session the boxers are frequently stopped and called over so Keith can offer expert advice and guidance. They listen and take it all in before touching gloves and throwing punches again.
Sit in silence
The young boxers sit in silence on a bench along the edge of the ring and watch their clubmates train until it’s their turn to climb between the ropes. I love boxing gyms and it’s those small details that I love.
Confession, I first met Keith when I was matched against one of his boys in 1994 (I lost). I hung up my gloves a long time ago and he has not stopped doing the sport he loves. Three hours a session, four times a week he opens the door to welcome new boxers and train his current stable.
Every year he gets a club photo of all his boxers. These annual photos are proudly displayed on the walls of the changing room. It’s quite a sight to look across several hundred faces staring down at you all proudly wearing the club’s red club vest. All of them have Keith to thank for their time in their sport.
And the good news for boxing in Cwmbran and Wales is that he has no intention of retiring.