Published: 13:00, 10 August 2017
A gym owner is beaming with pride after reopening his Sittingbourne business following a serious arson attack.
In March, a car was driven into the shutters at Rumbles Boxing Academy, doused in petrol and set alight.
Police have been unable to trace the culprit but 64-year-old Charlie Rumble has been working tirelessly to restore his Castle Road gym to its former glory.
With three boxing rings, inspirational posters of professionals on the walls and rows of gloves, it’s now almost impossible see the damage caused to the building on the Eurolink estate.
Charlie said he’s thrilled with how it looks now, but added: “When it happened it made me ill.
“That day I sat on the wall outside and cried but in the long run they’ve done us a favour because it’s better now.
“I’m really pleased with the way it’s turned out and I’ve got a good team around me, they’ve all been fantastic.”
He estimates thousands have been spent by the club on getting it up and running again, but donations have come flooding in, including £2,000 given by a parent of one of the children for CCTV covering nearby roads.
“I hope it doesn’t happen again, it would be heartbreaking,” he added.
“We weren’t insured, we had to put everything in the skip and pay for the shutters and everything.
“We’ve now got top high tech security and I’ve got a man making me a gate so if it does ever happen again then they’ve got to smash through steel.”
Police said after investigations a suspect had not been identified, and their investigation has been filed, until someone with more information comes forward.
Gifts from the boxing community helped get the club back on its feet, with a friend donating a 16ft ring for upstairs.
There are now about 50 children training each day with Charlie, who is president of the Kent Boxing Association. While it was closed, some were able to train at Fulston Manor school, in Brenchley Road, Sittingbourne.
There are also small reminders of the community’s help, with a picture of the cheque donated by youngster Samuel Lench proudly on display.
He said the full refurbishment, including carpets, painting, new gloves and new rings, has left the club short of money, but things are improving.
“It’s all going well now. It’s a great club and what I love about any boxing club I’ve run, is the atmosphere. I have a laugh with the kids before training because you’ve got to run a happy club.
"We’re all a big boxing family, and I’m really grateful to everyone who helped me" - Charlie Rumble
“We’re all a big boxing family, and I’m really grateful to everyone who helped me, especially Wayne Richard Martin and his wife Jo, they’ve been fantastic. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
He is now looking forward to a grand opening on Saturday, August 19, which will see celebrity guests from the boxing world visit, plus a children’s fun day from 11.30am.
To find out more, visit rumblesboxingacademy.co.uk
If you can help police, call 01795 419119, with reference XY/11854/17
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