“Anything’s possible” – how Harry opened his own gym at 19
Starting your own business is no mean feat, at any age. So how, then, did Harry Radenhurst from Crawley manage to open his own gym at the tender age of 19?
As part of our work helping young people learn new skills, we often hold workshops, conferences, and enrichment days to help secondary students and older teenagers get on the right track.
Premier League Inspires is a programme that helps us achieve this goal – a personal development programme that inspires young people aged 11-25 at risk of not reaching their potential, to develop the personal skills and positive attitudes needed to succeed in life.
Harry was one such young person that we worked with at a young age.
Harry’s confidence and drive has seen him set up his own gym in Worthing – Coast2Coast Boxing – and he couldn’t be happier with how things are going.
“If you told me a year ago that the gym would be where it is now, I’d have been ecstatic,” Harry told us, “We’ve really exceeded what we thought we could do.
“We’ve got a really good community of people who consistently turn up to our sessions, we’ve got boys who are going to be ready to compete this year, and we’ve got female boxing as well which is important. I’m really happy with where we are.”
And happy he should be. Harry is still in education; he’s finished his foundation degree in Sports Science at Worthing College, and in September he starts on his bachelors degree.
At just 20 years old, he’s helping to run an up-and-coming gym, and he’s well on his way to getting qualifications in both academia and within boxing.
How did he get here? Harry says through his own self-belief, and the belief that other people have shown in him along the way – including one very inspiring BHAFC Foundation teacher.
Harry grew up in Crawley, and has been living in Worthing on and off since he was 12.
For a long time, boxing wasn’t even on his radar.
“Funnily enough, boxing has only been on my mind for the last few years. Before that, I always really wanted to be a police officer growing up.
“I had that dream for a long time when I was younger, but as I grew up I realised that wasn’t at all what I wanted to do anymore.
“That left me at a crossroads, wondering who and what exactly I was going to be be. That’s when I found boxing.
“At first I was doing the boxing myself, but pretty quickly I discovered that I really enjoyed the coaching side of it.
“I thought to myself ‘I can see myself doing this as a career’. I didn’t expect it to happen anywhere near this quickly, though!”
Harry had a goal in mind, but perhaps he just needed a little push in the right direction. That came one day, when his college invited him down to a BHAFC Foundation careers day at the Amex Stadium.
Harry’s college were invited down to a ‘Gamechangers’ careers aspiration day – one of many events the Foundation runs designed to help guide young people towards a future career.
“We went on a trip with my uni down to the Amex, which was pretty cool,” Harry said, “It was a day where we talked about our future, learned about employability, what we could do in the future.
“It was a good day, we were brainstorming about how best to go into a job we enjoyed and how to get there and succeed.
“There were some cool activities going on, a relaxed environment, and some nice food which helps you get motivated!”
Harry says that the day was inspiring for him and helped him focus in on his future career. Meeting the Foundation staff, and seeing that they believed in him, left a huge impression on a young Harry that day.
“I actually had to leave a little early on that day, and just as I was leaving Rob (Foundation School Manager) stopped me and spoke to me.
“He gave me his business card, and he took the time to tell me that he saw some potential in me. That helped me to believe in myself a lot more. We all need a bit of encouragement.
“It was a big compliment and it made me feel very excited about the future. I definitely felt more encouraged to pursue my boxing and to back myself a bit more.
“When you’re in education, sometimes it’s hard to see where that next step will come once you finish. How will you get into a career, into a job?
“I wasn’t sure what to expect going into it, but I left with a lot more clarity about my future.”
We spoke to Rob, who was absolutely full of praise for young Harry.
“I always felt Harry would do well going out on his own,” Rob told us.
“He’s very entrepreneurial and very passionate, and he’s full of so much confidence. I remember him talking about his dream of going into boxing, and I think it’s incredible that he’s achieved so much so quickly.”
With fresh inspiration, Harry approached a boxing club in Horsham and asked them for a job.
He didn’t have any experience, but the gym were impressed by his ability and his confidence, so they took Harry on and helped him through his Level 1 coaching qualifications through England Boxing.
“When I started off it was only basic stuff. They’d have me doing warm-ups, pad work, that kind of thing,” Harry said.
“Eventually they trusted me to start taking on sessions by myself.”
Harry then took the bold decision to leave the gym and look for a fresh start.
“Clint, another coach, invited me to a meeting one night. He told me he wanted to start a club with me, and that I would be doing a lot of the coaching.
Still just a teenager, Harry took the plunge and the pair decided to set up their own gym in Worthing.
Despite the new responsibility Harry now had, and the potential risks involved with starting up your own project, Harry wasn’t fazed one bit.
“It was a no brainer for me.
“In life, I think everyone knows what you need to do. What it comes down to is the will to do it. Once I knew I was good enough to do it, I didn’t have any doubts at all.”
Harry’s gym has been open for nearly a year now, and it’s gone by in a flash for him.
“12 months ago we didn’t have a name, we didn’t have a building, it was all just an idea in our heads.
“For me personally, it’s been amazing. I really love it. We’re running four sessions a week and I’m loving it – well, 90% of the time. There are times when I’m thinking ‘oh my God, why am I doing this?’, but I wouldn’t change it.
“It is a lot of work though, and it can be stressful. It’s never just running four sessions a week – you’re always working behind the scenes on the matchmaking, organising the sparring, keep on your boys when they aren’t turning up, all sorts of things.
“But, the skills I’ve developed in this last year after being thrown in at the deep end have been mental.”
Despite his success, Harry is still aware that he has a lot to learn.
“I look back now, and I know for a fact I probably wasn’t ready to open my own club,” he said, “But, because I put myself in that situation, I had no choice but to be ready. It forced me to improve a lot more quickly than I would have done.
“I’m someone that wants to be the best at what I do. I know I’m nowhere near the best now, but I’ll always work hard to try and reach that.”
Coast2Coast operates as a non-profit organisation, and invests its funds into new equipment and providing stable finances for the future.
It’s a future that Harry is incredibly excited to see.
“We’re starting to become more known in the community, we’ve got lots of regulars, which leads to more people hearing about us through word of mouth. The brand has grown, the gym has grown, and the sessions keep getting on better and better.”
The proud co-leader of Worthing’s brightest up-and-coming new boxing gym at just 20. What advice does he have to pass on to other youngsters looking to follow in his footsteps?
“The main thing I’ve done, and what I’m still doing every day, is being a sponge for information,” Harry shared.
“There’s so much knowledge out there for us to absorb, and the minute you stop learning and start thinking you’ve made it, that’s when your problems will start.
“There are a lot of old-school coaches out there who have been there and done it, and they have a lot to teach. If I’d gone into this thinking I already know it all, being brash and overconfident, it just wouldn’t have worked.
“To any young people looking to start something of their own, I’d say make the most of your skills and the advantages you have, but also recognise that you don’t know everything. Be there to listen and it will help you develop.”
“As humans, we’re very good at believing that we can’t do something. But then, once we’ve done it, it seems like it was always possible.”