By Russell Bennett
An Officer boxing gym is punching well above its weight when it comes to elite talent, and its managing director and head trainer Nathan Skeen is leading the charge.
‘Urban Boxer’ is the brainchild of Skeen, who has extensive experience in the ring – both at amateur and professional level, and both at home and abroad in the UK.
But the gym not only provides a home for some of the area’s most prodigiously-talented amateur boxers to fine-tune their craft, it also provides an elite conditioning and personal training environment for anyone looking to improve their fitness base.
The Station Street-based gym caters to absolutely anyone of any ability – young or old, experienced or just starting out.
Skeen started boxing when he was just 14 and ultimately went on to train under some of the biggest names in the game, including John Tandy and Ian Burbedge in the UK, and the legendary Johnny Lewis in Sydney – former trainer of world champions Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tszyu.
The eye-opening experience helped mould Skeen into the trainer he is today.
He’s now focussed on the amateur scene in Melbourne, and mentoring the likes of local young guns Lockie Byrne and Jordan Seaborne who picked up silver medals from the Adelaide junior nationals last month.
“With something like football the players will train during the week and play a game on the weekend,” Skeen said.
“With this situation, the boys don’t have any games on the weekend.
“They’re just training and it’s quite tough. They’ve got no one else to rely on – it’s just them in the gym and I make sure they’re doing the work. I’ve got a strict regime, but you have to cater for kids.”
Skeen said Byrne, Seaborne, and young Ethan Bernades were names to keep a real eye on in the future.
“These three have stuck with it, and there’s a couple of other guys who’ll come through as well in a year or so as well,” Skeen said.
“They’ve just done fantastically well. They’ve been thrown in the deep end with state titles, interstate fights straight away, and then obviously the nationals.”
Skeen said he’d taken something from every trainer who’d ever guided him along the way, and put those elements together in his own training.
“I’ve had some kids I’ve trained who were from homes where they got into some trouble, and this pulls them right in,” he said of boxing.
“There’s a lot of discipline involved.
“I know I was getting into loads of trouble before I found the boxing gym, but when I did it was almost like I wasn’t trying to impress the kids on the street – I was trying to impress the guys in the gym.
“That’s what I think is good about it. These guys went away with some of the Olympians and on this camp they’re trying to impress the likes of Jason Whateley – the heavyweight Olympian.”
Urban Boxer in Officer has group training and classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with Saturdays also available, while Skeen’s new endeavour – Gembrook Health and Fitness – is set to be up and running over the next month. Nestled right in the heart of the picturesque hills town, it offers classes in boxing, Pilates, yoga, and strength and conditioning. It will also feature both massage and physio, and is perfect for anyone of any fitness level – including young families and mums with newborns.
For more information call Nathan Skeen on 0447 762 444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep an eye on the ‘Gembrook Health and Fitness’ Facebook page for more updates on the hills site, which is set to open in a matter of weeks.