St Peters amateur boxing club was first affiliated in the early 1900s and was known as Woolwich ABC. Initially situated in Woolwich Catholic Social Club one of the young prospects at the time was called Joe Dempster who had an impressive 25 fights between 1910- 1930. After retiring as a boxer Joe took over the role as head coach. Joe then spent many years coaching young prospects, one of which was his son Pat Dempster. Pat had a very successful amateur career and went on to become an Irish International boxer. Following his father’s retirement as head coach Pat went on to take over the role.
During the 1970s Woolwich underwent a regeneration and the Woolwich Catholic Social Club was demolished. This meant that the club needed a new home and they found it when they moved to St Peters junior school on Cresent road in Woolwich at which point the club was renamed St Peters ABC.
“Boxing and St Peter’s has changed my life. Since starting I feel more confident and ready to go to the level and comparatively box”
St Peters has had a successful reign over the years and had produces some excellent amateur talent all of which came from the Woolwich area. These include Lesley Stewart who went on to win the WBA light heavyweight title, Julius Francis who won the British – European – Commonwealth and Lonsdale belts. Another name that is hugely highlighted in the St Peters history is Gerrard Lavelle. Gerrard started his boxing career with St Peters and following huge success went on to become an England International boxer. Gerrard then went on to join the armed forces where he continued his success in his boxing career. After leaving the armed forces he returned to St Peters as a coach and helped to develop many young prospects.
Steve Higgins was another of the great prospects that came out of St Peters. Steve met Pat Dempster following some time spent in juvenile prison. Pat set some ground rules for Steve and that was when his boxing career started. He became an excellent amateur and decided to become a licensed professional. Unfortunately, a bad accident left Steve with partial vision in one eye, but undeterred he returned to St Peters and began coaching as he had a strong desire to help others. Steve retired from his coaching role in at the club in 2015, which paved the way for the upcoming coaches being developed at the club.
“Training hasn’t only helped me to get fit. It has also helped me to build life long friendships with like-minded people “
In 2008 St Peters funding was cut which lead to the club having to relocate again to survive. The new home of St Peters was found and is the same location as today which is St Thomas Church in Charlton. The club continues to thrive and offer opportunities for young people to grow and develop there boxing skills. The club now boasts an impressive membership base from 7-60 years old from all different backgrounds, genders, ethnicities and abilities with an everyone is welcome policy whether they want to competitively box or just get fit.
In 2017 St Peters were awarded a grant to enable the club to buy all new equipment and help the club to grow and prosper. This was awarded by Sported and The Big Lottery Fund and was achieved by the work of Level 2 coach Scott O’Connor who is now fully focused on bringing the club back to its former glory and producing high quality amateur boxers.