Founder of Islington Boxing Club dies at 86

Islington Boxing Club
Ron Hagland was one of the establishing members of Islington Boxing Club in 1974. Credit: Islington Boxing Club

Members of London’s boxing community have celebrated the life of revered coach Ron Hagland, following his death on Wednesday night last week.

Mr Hagland was a founder of Islington Boxing Club, which opened in 1974, and helped to coach amateur boxers and Olympic stars, such as gold medal winner Audley Harrison, for over 40 years.

The club is now run by his son Lenny Hagland, who took over management of the club when his father retired.

“Ron was a very loyal person and very wise. He gave a lot of good, sound advice on a lot of different subjects,” Lenny told Islington Now.

He also spoke about how Mr Hagland first came to boxing after the tragic loss of his daughter at the age of five. Lenny was nine years old at the time and his father took him to boxing classes.

“His life since my sister died was the boxing club and he helped it grow into what it is today,” Lenny said.

“Up to his dying days, all he wanted to know about was the club.”

Mr Hagland was also remembered by past and present members of the boxing club on social media.

Audley Harrison, who won the super heavyweight boxing gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, praised Mr Hagland on Twitter. 

Islington-born footballer and former England international Jay Bothroyd also praised his coaching, saying “Ron has done so much for the community. He got a lot of kids off the streets of North London and helped them do something positive.”

“I started going there when I was six or seven years old and I still go today in my off-season for training. We will miss you.”

The boxing club was originally set up to prevent increasing vandalism in the area and give bored local youths a sense of purpose. From its opening to the present day, the club has been mainly self-financed but has received a small annual grant from Islington Council.

Although it was previously known as Islington Boys Club and a place where men would go to play snooker and darts as well as boxing, the club now claims to have the highest number of women boxers in London.

In a statement, Islington Boxing Club said, “Ron certainly put down the foundations for others to follow.

Many friends and ex-members often came into the club to ask how he was. It is quite humbling to know that he was held in such high esteem by so many and helped, guided and advised hundreds of people in life.

‘The Club’ was his life right up to the very end. I know it has made him extremely happy that IBC is really thriving nowadays and that his family are heavily involved in its running.

We will miss you terribly, we hope to make you proud and keep progressing the club into the future”