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“The most rewarding aspect of being a trainer/promoter is taking a boy from an early age and transforming them into a Champion. Whether that be world level or even domestic level, it is truly so rewarding to be able to do that with young fighters and guide them along the way.”

 

 

SANIGAR EVENTS: A PASSIONATE ETHIC FOR ALL THINGS BOXING

 

“Throwing in the towel” is an idiom that resides deep inside the history of boxing. It stands as a metaphor for accepting defeat, giving up or failing to conquer adversity, and since it’s initial use in the wake of the 20th Century, it has become a common conundrum in the English language.

 

Fighters across the world will be very familiar with the phrase, but no-one will fully understand it more than former-boxer and now-promoter; Chris Sanigar.

 

Those who are familiar with his story will already know why there is no secret he was called “one of the bravest fighters in Britain”, but for those who don’t know about Chris and his son Jamie, their storied road to today speaks volumes of their unquestionable loyalty to the sport.

 

Chris Sanigar; the founder of Sanigar Events, first made his name in the sport of boxing back in 1978 as a professional prizefighter. After representing England in the amateurs and making the ABA Championship Finals, southpaw Sanigar embarked on the professional ranks, capturing the BBBofC Southern Light-Welterweight title before his eventual retirement in 1984. His career spanned six years, boxing in various countries like Italy, New Zealand, France and Zimbabwe, concluding a 31-fight resume with 18 wins (10 KO’s), 11 losses (5 KO’s) and two draws.

 

 

“I had so much guts, so much courage. All I wanted to do was fight, fight, fight, not box. I had the pleasure of being crowned Champion of London in my career, boxed in various countries along the road, and really had a good time” said Sanigar.

 

“I was a big party-goer in my early days. I drank lots of alcohol throughout my career and that really had an impact on me. Since my retirement and to this day, I’ve not drank a single drop of alcohol and I thank God that it has made such a change to my life. I do really feel if I didn’t have the alcohol in those days when I was boxing, I could’ve got a lot further.”

 

 

 

Even in his days as a modern gladiator however, Sanigar had always had the intentions of staying on after it was time to hang-up the gloves.

 

“Even when I was fighting, I knew I wanted to become a manager. After I retired, I was still spending day after day in various gym’s studying the great trainers and managers I had around me. I would pay attention to their little sayings and the way they acted, and I really was fortunate to be able to learn from the likes of George Francis and Micky Dove.”

 

In 1989, Sanigar consulted with the BBBoC and was granted a professional boxing license once again, this time as a manager and trainer. His reputation as an all-action fighter, knowledge of the sport and desire to pursue coaching paved way for the formation of Bristol Boxing Gym in the same year and has since became the pioneer for boxing in the South West of England.

 

“The decision to form my own gym originated from my relationship with George Francis, my former manager. I was always so close to George and that was what really gave me the idea to open my own gym and pursue managing, and thankfully that became a reality in 1989”

 

 

Bristol Boxing Gym was originally based in a St Pauls facility, whereby it’s storied 29-year history began. Chris and his son Jamie worked extensively with young prospects in the south of the UK and quickly forged a choreography that would promise future champions.

 

So far, the Sanigar Events team has produced nine champions including the likes of Lee Selby, Glenn Catley, Lee Haskins, Dean Francis, Adrian Stone and more. Over it’s near 30-year history, the Bristol Boxing Gym team has established an unrivaled coaching and managerial style that has developed into what it is today. It’s very easy to say that it’s reputation among the best gyms in the UK has been earned through sheer determination and unprecedented passion alone, but under Chris and Jamie Sanigar’s direction, it seems the only plausible explanation.

 

(Left to Right) Lee Haskins, Lee Selby

 

“The most rewarding aspect of being a trainer/promoter is taking a boy from an early age and transforming them into a Champion. Whether that be world level or even domestic level, it is truly so rewarding to be able to do that with young fighters and guide them along the way.”

 

In 2000, Sanigar Events and Bristol Boxing Gym produced their very first World Champion in Glenn Catley, beating then WBC Super-Middleweight Champion Markus Beyer in his native Germany. It was the first time in history a Bristol-based fighter had won a World Championship.

 

“I had Glenn (Catley) since he was just 14. It was naturally the apex of my career. We then had Ross Hale and Dean Francis, who won the British and Commonwealth titles, then we brought Lee Haskins through who again we had from the early age of 14. We brought him through the amateur circuit, and now into British, Continental and European titles. It’s really been a roller-coaster ride.”

 

In 2007, Chris and Jamie formed the Community Sports Projects which offered local children professional standard coaching and facilities, giving local communities a pathway into the sport and a lesson into the art of discipline.

 

In January 2015, a £500,000 Community Asset Transfer moved the gym to a new lot in Easton and brought with it the inclusion of some of the best boxing facilities in the country.  It now sports a professional standard 20ft boxing ring, a second 16ft ring, 22 punching-bag stations, sets of iron dumbbells and a multi-purpose fitness studio. After the gym’s reputation proceeded and the Community Sports Project excelled in the local community, Chris and Jamie registered Empire Fighting Chance in 2013 (co-founded by Martin Bisp), a charity-based organisation that gives support services to deprived local groups through counselling, mentoring, employability lessons, and on the side, a non-contact-based boxing experience.

 

 

Jamie Sanigar also became the youngest BBBoC Promoter in 2003, at just 23 years old. Whilst his father has a more personal relationship with the fighters on the team, son Jamie controls the multiple community organizations that Sanigar Events conduct and is largely responsible for the gym’s appeal to the local community.

 

Chris said: “As an ex-fighter, I’m able to empathize with my boxers. Jamie deals more with the legal and community aspects of the job, but I relate to the fighters on a personal level. I’ve been in their shoes, I’ve had the fights, I’ve been through it all with them. I think this what sets Sanigar Events apart from the rest and what makes our relationship with the fighters so special.”

“Having experienced professional fighting, I also understand how important the role of a promoter/manager is. Getting the rights fights at the right time for my lads is crucial, and it can be very challenging at times. These boys develop at different stages, so you’ve got to know them personally. Most of my boxers have reputable amateur pedigrees and I do feel that’s essential for them. It teaches them ring-generalship, discipline and gives them the experience needed in this sport.”

“I’m pleased to see that the health and safety has improved immensely in boxing. At times, I do feel that certain fighters are able to get away with infringements to the rule-set and potentially influence decisions in the wrong way, so maybe modern-day refereeing does need to adopt a stricter stance, like it was when I was boxing professionally. Other than that, I’m very happy with the current state of the sport. I love it.”

 

Chris’ and Jamie’s passion for the boxing business was proving to be the perfect recipe for success, over nearly three decades of work. In 2009 however, Chris Sanigar would meet his toughest opponent to date; cancer.

 

“I hadn’t had a day off through illness for about 20 years. At the time, I didn’t even know you could survive from cancer, all the people I had known who had suffered it had unfortunately died. I thought that was going to happen to me at first.”

 

Chris; being a devoted believer in God and a determined fighter in his own right, sought to battle his life-threating illness, just like his multiple battles in the squared-circle. Extraordinarily, his greatest victory came outside of the boxing ring, and instead within himself.

 

“I’m a big believer in God and I just thought to myself all of the way through that I was going to make it. I was against the odds just like my fighter Lee Haskins, who was such a big help. He boxed whilst I was having chemotherapy, and against the odds, he won. That really helped pull-me through, it was a really powerful thing.”

 

In 2010, just one year after he was diagnosed, Chris had beaten another foe in cancer and immediately returned to his home; boxing. Where it was easily an option to throw in the towel, whether that be from Chris, Jamie, Haskins, or anyone involved in the Sanigar Promotion and Bristol Boxing Gym, not a single person ever accepted defeat against the odds, and perhaps this echoes the purity of this team’s connection. To this day, Chris is still heavily involved with the boxing business and seems to want nothing less.

 

Sanigar Events still boasts multiple champions, including current Featherweight World-Champion Lee Selby, and hopes to continue to produce home-grown fighters and provide a platform for British prospects to transition into World Champions. Accompanied by the team at Bristol Boxing Gym, Sanigar Events operates with a passionate ethic for all things boxing, and is remarkably yet to see it’s best days as a promotional organisation.

 

It is clear to see why Sanigar Events has been in business for the past 25 years, promoting names such as Ricky Hatton, Frank Bruno, Joe Calzaghe and Prince Naseem Hamed. From Chris’ humble beginnings in small-town clubs around the country to the rackety-noise of the speed-ball in Bristol Boxing Gym, from Jamie’s BBBoC Promoter’s license at just 23 to his extensive work with Empire Fighting Chance, and from a young boy to a powerful champion, the future looks incredibly bright for such an extraordinary team, against ALL of the odds. If there’s one thing that Sanigar Events can promote, it’s to never throw in the towel.

 

Read more on Sanigar Events HERE

Watch Chris Sanigar “One of the Bravest Fighters in Britain” HERE

Read more on Empire Fighting Chance HERE

Watch more on Empire Fighting Chance HERE

Buy Tickets for next Fight Night HERE

 

 

 

 

By Kyle Smith

Images by Sanigar Events and Matchroom Boxing