A SPARRING day brought a wish a step closer for a boxer forced to quit the ring due to a crippling condition.

Boxing Fit Academy in Lostock raised an incredible £1,487 for Lee Barber, 39, who has multiple sclerosis but longs to walk down the aisle unaided to marry fiancée Louise Makepeace-Nunn.

Northwich Guardian:

Former boxer Lee Barber hopes to walk unaided down the aisle to marry fiancée Louise Makepeace, 32, in Italy

The game designer has set up a Go Fund Me campaign to raise £43,000 for stem cell therapy in Russia or Mexico.

Lee's close friend Matt Hill completed 12 two-minute rounds of non-stop sparring.

Coach Karen Lewis, who organised the event, said: "Matt was amazing. He faced a fresh person in every single round and didn't have a break.

Northwich Guardian:

Matt Hill sparring with Sam Lewis

"There was quite a crowd round the ring. Everyone gave him a big clap when he finished."

Northwich Guardian:

Lee Barber congratulates Matt Hill on his 12-hour non-stop sparring challenge

Lee, who watched the challenge with family and friends, said: "A great day. Boxfit were amazing, great venue, fantastic people and one hell of an effort from my good friend Matt."

Northwich Guardian:

Former boxer Lee Bamber watched Matt Hill's sparring challenge with his family and friends

The club was overwhelmed by support for their marathon 12-hour fundraiser on February 8.

Adults and children flocked to the gym as England Boxing coaches were on hand to supervise.

"The day was a huge success," said Karen. "It went better than we could have expected. Both rings were busy from early on till just before we finished for the evening.

"We had so many people through the door, both new and familiar faces which was great to see.

"We had youngsters and older people giving it a go which was brilliant. Everyone got stuck in and there was a really great atmosphere."

Northwich Guardian:

Boxer John Harrison sparred with his mum Barbara

Novices who had never worn a pair of boxing gloves before got hooked.

Former professional boxer, now head coach Frank Collins founded the academy in 2012, to share his passion for the sport.

Northwich Guardian:

Head coach Frank Collins and a junior boxer

Based at The Works Youth and Community Centre, the club now has more than 200 members and almost 3,000 followers on Facebook.

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Classes and training sessions are held throughout the week with early morning circuits at 6.15am.

Competitive boxing classes give youngsters the chance to hone their skills and gain confidence. A six-week beginners course is planned in the coming months.

Karen, whose life changed after she joined four years ago, said: "I like the intensity of the training.You feel yourself getting better every time. There is a very friendly atmosphere.

"Every precaution is taken to make sure no one gets hurt. There are so many kinds of guards people wear. It is one of the safest sports you can participate in."

Karen married fellow coach Sam Lewis in September.

"I never thought I'd walk into a sweaty boxing gym and meet my future husband," she said.

"Now when we get in from work we both get changed and come back to the club, do a class and train together afterwards. We're both fitness freaks."

Lee, who longs to get married, said: "I'm fighting to stop MS in its tracks in the hope that I can walk confidently next to my fiancée without crutches and stay out of a wheelchair.

"Stem cell therapy doesn't get rid of MS but it stops the progression. It will allow me to get around on sticks and stop me getting any worse."

To donate visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/stopping-19-years-of-ms-progression-with-hsct