Empire Fighting Chance


Community Assets and Services Fund

Big Potential


£61,508 (CASF)

£23,130 (Big Potential)


January 2014 (CASF)

March 2016 (Big Potential)

Region: South West
How the money was used:
  • Financial health check
  • Formalising procedures and policies for finance and governance

Empire Fighting Chance applied for a Community Assets and Services grant to refurbish their gymnasium before exploring the possibility of entering new markets with Big Potential’s investment readiness programme.

Social Impact

Empire Fighting Chance's creation as a charity came from the realisation that the fitness, education and discipline that underpin boxing could be harnessed for the self-improvement of young people.

Formed after the founders spotted and approached local youths drug-dealing in a local park and convinced them to change their lifestyle, Empire Fighting Chance uses boxing to enable vulnerable young people to flourish and fulfil their potential by raising aspirations, resilience and self-confidence.

But boxing alone isn’t enough to address the complex needs of young people.

As well as maintaining a high-quality boxing gym, Empire Fighting Chance work with local schools, Avon and Somerset police and the council to deliver programmes that deliver social impact and aid emotional health. 70% of young people that engage with Empire Fighting Chance have improved mental resilience, 78% commit less anti-social behaviour while 96% feel more confident about their future.

How we helpedEmpire Fighting Chance

Empire Fighting Chance's social investment journey began, as most enterprises do, with a physical space.

The charity were looking to complete a community assets transfer, taking on an old youth centre from the local authority to give them a place to operate.

Empire Fighting Chance applied for our Community Assets and Services Grant programme to help them gain ownership of the building. The support they received allowed them to pay the fees, pay for a surveyor and ultimately refurbish a state-of-the-art gymnasium.

Now with their foundations in place Empire Fighting Chance were boxing clever. But referrals from across the UK for their service meant that they faced a new challenge - meeting a growing demand.

But Empire Fighting Chance didn’t want to punch above their weight. They decided to apply to Big Potential to get an investment readiness grant and see if they were ready for expansion through loan investment.

Big Potential paired Empire Fighting Chance with support provider Young Foundation who helped them to find out if developing outside of Bristol could work for them.

“Social Investment Business and Young Foundation were helpful, knowledgeable and keen to do what was right for us. They helped us test and grow in a professional and sustainable way”

Martin Bisp, Co-Founder, Empire Fighting Chance 

What was the outcome?

The Big Potential grant allowed Empire Fighting Chance to put together a ‘replication model’ to test whether their service could be rolled out. They restructured their finances and received business planning support to help them anticipate several future scenarios for the charity.

The investment readiness conversation helped remove misconceptions Empire Fighting Chance had and prepared them to scale without exposing them to any unnecessary risk.

Having been a part of one of Bristol City Council’s most successful Community Asset Transfers, Empire Fighting Chance now acts as a focal point in the local community, with business premises that boast a classroom and mentoring space.

They are currently looking to expand their youth service into five cities in South Wales and have applied to the Impact Management Programme to help them achieve their playing mission of creating champions in the ring while also creating young champions in life.



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The Social Investment Business is the trading name for the Social Investment Business Foundation, Registered Company No. 05777484 (England), Registered Charity No. 1117185 (England & Wales), The Social Investment Business Limited, Registered in England No. 06490609, VAT No. 927456693, Futurebuilders-England Limited, Registered in England No. 05066676 and Forward Enterprise FM Ltd, Registered in England No.11238102. Registered Office: CAN Mezzanine, Borough, 7-14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR.

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