York Hall boxing is steeped in history. While big arena and stadium fights have become increasingly aspirational over the last five years in the UK, the legendary Bethnal Green venue has played host to a veritable who's who of British boxing - usually when they were on the way up, as is true of Ricky Hatton and Lennox Lewis - over the last 80 years. Even esteemed imports like the late Johnny Tapia and heavyweight giant Nikolay Valuev have competed in the 1,200-capacity building on Old Ford Road. It also boasts a gym and pool - the latter where my school used to take us for swimming lessons.
But what makes an intimate venue on a nondescript E2 street so very special to the tight-knit boxing community?
"It's the history," opines Goodwin Promotions Head of Boxing, Kevin Campion. The group regularly put on shows there and Campion's pro debut as a head cornerman (with the much-missed Dean Powell assisting), and all his own promoted cards, came at York Hall. "I know it is a bit run-down, but just being in there you know that so many great fighters have fought there before, you can feel it almost.
"Plus it’s one of the best venues for the fans. Up close and personal, not a bad seat in the house, which creates some of the best atmospheres."
Campion's affection for the proximity of the crowd is mirrored by Bradley Skeete, Penge's WBO No. 3 welterweight whose first four professional contests came at York Hall.
"Anyone who has boxed at York Hall will tell you that when it’s sold out it’s got one of the best atmospheres in boxing," declares Skeete who won a London senior amateur title and his first pro belt there, with 10 of his 28 paid bouts overall occurring in the east London fortress. "With the upstairs seating [the famous balcony], when you box it really feels like the crowd are on top of you. I made my debut at York Hall and have had some great nights boxing there.
"It’s got a lot of history. Everyone in the country who knows boxing will have definitely heard of York Hall."
York Hall boxing should continue for several years to come. Next up is indeed a Goodwin show on November 25, with Campion of course overseeing the event.
"It’s the home of British Boxing!" Kevin declares, and it's hard to argue.