ST JOSEPHS Amateur Boxing Club Caldicot has helped hundreds of people since it opened in Sudbrook earlier this year.

Founder Martin Lewis, 35, of Longfellow Place, Caldicot, recently won a Citizen's Award from Caldicot Town Council in recognition of its impact.

He spoke to Saul Cooke-Black about how he hopes the boxing club can help young people, as he was helped during an abusive childhood by the sport.

GROWING up, my childhood was extremely unstable with constant abuse both physically and mentally.

I was always being moved from one home to another, never settling into a school which meant not having a consistent education.

During all these moves I was always fighting and would go out into the street looking for fights.

It wasn't until a move to Rogiet, where I spent the longest period at a primary school.

Aged 11, I then went to Caldicot Comprehensive School. With a home life that was still very unsettled I continued to get into trouble and fight on the street.

A friend's brother had heard about me fighting and he started talking to me about a boxing club. A place where it was acceptable to fight.

He took me to St Josephs ABC Newport to train. The first few sessions were tough. I wasn't used to having people tell me what to do.

I hadn't had an authoritative figure in my life up until now.

The club had a two strike rule. One warning then you're out. It meant no more fighting in the street and concentrating on training at the boxing club.

Without the boxing club, continuing to fight on the street would have undoubtedly led me into jail.

Over time I began to look up to the coaches. I was fascinated by how they could teach a person to fight.

I found a sport that helped me focus and kept me interested.

Through my teens I continued to box, catching the bus to Newport by saving any money I had.

As I grew older, I wanted to give something back to the community. My aim was to open a local boxing club.

I knew how hard it was for the local community. Youngsters not having anywhere to go.

There was a calling for a boxing club in Caldicot. There had never been a boxing club in Caldicot.

I began to draw up a plan for a boxing club, and then approached the local council.

My hope was that they would be able to provide a space or building for the club to use.

However after more than three years of offers of rundown buildings needing thousands of pounds of restoration with no funding available, I was getting no where.

Richard Harris, a committee member of Sudbrook Sports and Social Club, got in touch with me. After seeing the numerous articles in the local paper, he put a suggestion forward to the committee of the Sudbrook club, that the upstairs function room could be used by the new boxing club.

The committee agreed and I was invited to take a look at the function room.

It was exactly what I needed for the club.

The function room had been used as a storage facility by the club for some time. So with the help of a small group of friends we completely gutted the room and stripped it back to the bare walls.

Over the next three to four months a lot of hard work and late nights were put into getting it ready to be used as a boxing club.

The local community and a number of local companies got behind me and supported the new club.

I received donations of building materials and paint, equipment and flooring. The club began to take shape.

St Josephs ABC Caldicot officially opened on February 16, 2017.

As of October 2017 St Josephs ABC Caldicot has three carded boxers ready for their first bouts, with a number of potential young boxers who could get their cards in the future.

The three boxers are trying to be matched on St Josephs ABC Newport's show on December 9 at Pill Millennium Centre.

I am planning an open air boxing show for summer 2018 at Caldicot Castle, after having put on two successful shows at Caldicot Labour Club for Newport St Josephs ABC.

They were both complete sell-outs and I'm sure I will be able to do the same again in 2018.

I've seen a lot of anti-social behaviour in this area. I hope the boxing club can help steer youngsters away from drugs and crime.

I try to help people with mental health issues too.

Boxing is better than any pill a doctor can give you.

GDAS (Gwent Drug and Alcohol Service) in Chepstow have asked me to put on a session for a group of addicts in recovery to get them into boxing.

I have helped people with disabilities too. A lot of people think if you are disabled that's it, but with boxing I can show them it's not it and there is more they can do.

Boxing can have a massive impact especially in a community like this where people are struggling.

I've been down and out. I've been rock bottom, you think there is no way out.

A lot of people don't want to talk about it but with boxing and the gym you feel comfortable in there.

People talk about their problems which they would not anywhere else.

Helping people makes me feel better. I know what it's like to be down there. It's absolute hell.

At present the club is in the process of completing a charity challenge.

We are hoping to raise £1,000 to buy children in care in Monmouthshire Christmas presents.

As a child, I didn't receive anything for a few Christmasses. It's extremely disheartening.

I would like to help children out who are in the same position.

To do this we are completing a 10,000 burpee challenge.

We are still looking for donations which can be made via

The premises is not quite big enough now, I have outgrown it already.

What I would like to do in the future is get a lottery grant and improve the building and make it bigger or move to a bigger venue.

I have to turn people away now because it's not big enough.