Llantrisant gym Fight Academy Wales celebrated its fifth birthday last week and owner Darren Wilson is over the moon with the success the gym has made in its short life. Wilson was a former amateur boxer but medical reasons halted his career and the formation of the gym was a bold move. He remembered the start, “First off I started the gym up to do personal training and to train amateur boxers and I got in to pro boxing with a bit of luck. Fred Janes, a journeyman, and Cookie (Jason Cook), making his comeback at the time, came to me and it’s snowballed from there and the gym hasn’t looked back.” In the amateur ranks the gym has either trained or handled the strength and conditioning for boxers who have won Welsh titles, international medals and a women’s world number one. In the pro ranks the gym has housed boxers who went on to win Welsh, Commonwealth, British, European and world titles. Wilson reflected, “It’s even surprised myself. When I look back, when I wrote a list of who’s been at the gym and what the gym has achieved over just five years, I just thought that’s quite mad really.” “I’m still a fan and I love having the fighters we have in the gym, especially when we have boys from the grass roots. I take every opportunity to watch them develop.” Wilson laughs off the moniker of the ‘Welsh Wildcard’ but the success of the gym has seen its profile rise in Wales with high profile football and rugby players using the gym – giving Wilson sometimes endless days. He details, “I start six o’clock in the morning, doing my bootcamps and personal training, my last class will be nine o’clock. Sometimes Nathan (Cleverly) might want to train late so I’ll do conditioning with them so I can have days where I’m working at the gym six (am) to ten (pm) with just an hour or two gap for dinner.” The network of boxers that Wilson works with includes Nathan Cleverly, Gary Buckland, Jason Cook, Liam Williams and Jermaine Asare. Also based at the gym is trainer-manager Gary Lockett, bringing with him the likes of Gavin Rees, Kerry Hope, Enzo Maccarinelli, Bradley Pryce, Jeff Evans, Lewis Rees and Alex Hughes. Between them Wilson eyes more success in the next five years, he said, “We can get another couple of domestic champions, some European champions and world champions. If the gym can achieve what it has in the next five years as it has in the last five years then then that’ll be a huge achievement.”

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