A BOXING gym has become the first business to start trading from converted space within a rejuvenated North-East stadium.

Paul Hamilton, owner of the Darlington Boxing and Martial Arts Academy, has invested a five-figure sum renovating space inside the 25,000-seat Northern Echo Arena.

The stadium, which stood dormant since the departure of Darlington FC last year following a fans’ takeover, burst back to life this month after being bought by the town’s Mowden Park rugby club.

Mr Hamilton, 43, has converted the former supporters’ bar and club shop areas in the stadium into a boxing gym with facilities he says rival those found anywhere else in the UK.

Formerly based in Darlington town centre, Mr Hamilton has relocated his entire operation to the stadium as of this week, saying it was an easy decision to make.

He said: “The rugby club came to me and asked if I was interested in holding shows at the stadium.

“They told me their business plan for the arena and I jumped at the chance to put my gym in there.

“The possibilities for this stadium are massive and I think Mowden will really make a go of it."

The Northern Echo revealed earlier this month that Joanne McCue, the ex-wife of fitness club owner and Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne, is planning to open her own gym at the stadium.

  • Mr Hamilton’s gym is holding its first amateur fight night at the arena on Friday (February 22), featuring 14 local fighters who will take on boxers from around the UK. Doors open at 7pm. Admission costs £15 for adults and £10 for juniors. To book, call 07920-865-505.

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