Barnsley boxer’s new sportswear brand proves to be a worthy contender

A former warehouse worker, who defied the odds to successfully open his own boxing gym, is hoping to inspire others to try martial arts and has launched his own brand of sportswear.

Charlie first launched his Wombwell-based gym in 2018 and called upon the Launchpad Business Support Programme to help him transform his dreams of running his own business into a reality. His journey began when he successfully secured the keys to a damp, dilapidated basement at Wombwell Working Men’s Club and turned it into a haven for fitness enthusiasts.

Since that time, Charlie has successfully overcome all the odds, including overcoming a life-threatening illness, as well as navigating his fledgling business through the Covid-19 pandemic, when it was unable to trade due to local and national lockdown restrictions.

Today, Retro Fitness provides a space for people of all ages to take part in boxing, kickboxing and self-defence classes. The busy gym counts children as young as six to individuals enjoying their retirement amongst its regular visitors, who are given the chance to perfect their boxing skills, learn new martial arts as well as shedding the pounds by taking part in a range of intensive bootcamps.

As the business grew, the future of Charlie’s business was plunged into uncertainty when he was diagnosed with sepsis and pneumonia. The experience left him in a coma for three weeks and unable to work for six months; he turned to partner Rebecca, his sister and parents to keep the business ticking over.

During his recuperation, Charlie began to notice a gap in the market for boxing equipment that was capable of meeting the rigorous training demands placed upon it. He decided to take a chance and contact a specialist manufacturer to produce a range of boxing equipment designed to his own specifications.

To help him grow his business, Charlie continued to work closely with Launchpad business adviser Kiran Antcliffe, regularly taking part in one-to-one advice sessions as well as attending workshops designed to help him master the skills needed to build and grow a successful business, from getting to grips with the finances of his business to recruiting staff for the first time.

Today, Retro Fitness sells a range of gloves, protective headgear and specialist shin protectors, used in kickboxing, and employs five people. He is also hoping to add two additional members of staff to his workforce in the near future to meet the growing demand for his specialist sportswear.

Charlie Green, founder, Retro Fitness, said:“I’d never really thought about running my own business, but I’ve always been passionate about boxing. It’s not just a great way to keep fit, it can teach youngsters important life skills, from discipline to improving willpower and perseverance. When the space became available I felt it offered a great opportunity to do something for my local community.

“I didn’t know the first thing about running a business, so I reached out to the Launchpad team for help, half expecting them to laugh at me. They didn’t, they listened to what I had to say and they’ve been incredibly supportive as the business has grown and evolved.”

Kiran Antcliffe, business adviser, Launchpad, said: “The challenges Charlie has faced since he launched his business would have tested even the most seasoned business owner. The hallmarks of any entrepreneur are being able to spot opportunities when faced with adversity, as well as being unafraid to try new things.”

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