IT HAS been boxing clever since just after the end of the Second World War.

Now Eastleigh Amateur Boxing Club (EABC) has celebrated its 70th anniversary – less than a year after it closed down for several months.

A nostalgic evening at the Locomotive Club in Station Hill, Eastleigh, was attended by about 50 people, including coaches past and present.

Eastleigh is thought to have had a boxing club since the 1920s or 1930s. But EABC was founded in 1947 by Sandy Powell. His career began when he worked on the railways and he went on to become the British Rail and Southern Counties light welterweight champion. Two years after the end of the war he became an affiliated Amateur Boxing Association coach and started a small club that became a breeding ground for future champions.

Nicky Catsudis and Jan Madgiary both turned professional and celebrated victories against boxing greats such as Alex Minter.

The club moved from the Golden Hind pub to new premises in Bishopstoke and continued to welcome successful coaches, one of whom, Michael Uzebu-Asije, was made an MBE for services to sport in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2007.

A Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner in 1958, he moved to England from Nigeria as a 12 year-old cabin boy before settling in Eastleigh.

After winning more than 200 fights as an amateur light-welterweight he became a respected coach and was awarded an MBE for services to the sport nine years ago.

Mr Asije died in 2016, aged 83. Based at The Hub in Bishopstoke Road, Eastleigh, the club closed in 2016 but was relaunched a few months later.

Chairman Stuart Rooney said: “The club ran into difficulties and ended. When I found out I knew it was my mission to get it up and running again.

“In February last year it started back up and now has three sessions a week with five England-qualified boxing coaches including myself.

“We’ve also been nominated for club of the year in the Eastleigh Sports Awards, which will be announced next month.”

EABC notched up its 70th anniversary last year but decided to postpone the celebrations until after Christmas.